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Grammar in our schools

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 6 March 2014
  • The following letter was published in The Courier-Mail on Tuesday 4 March with the underlined words deleted and the bracketed one inserted. The paper's heading was "Grammar gripes being addressed". The letter was written in response to an opinion piece headlined "Don't split your infinitives here" that had appeared in the the paper the day before.

Grammar in our schools

Sue Wighton asks to be allowed "one last rallying call for the return of sound grammatical knowledge to our schools" ("Don't split your infinitives here", 3 March).

She should not fret. The process is under way.

The language strand of the English component of the Australian Curriculum contains commendable detail on a sensible approach to the grammar of English. It is just to be hoped that the current review of the curriculum does not meddle with this strength before it has been fully understood and properly implemented.

In addition to the necessary but insufficient business of avoiding grammatical errors, the curriculum sensibly focuses on how different choices of grammatical structures construct meaning in different ways.

There is, however, no place for cluttering up kids' (children’s) heads with three traditional so-called "rules" which are, frankly, nonsense.

I refer to the time-honoured prohibitions against splitting infinitives, beginning sentences with conjunctions, or ending them with prepositions.

As Wighton implies, judiciously managed, all three are fine.

Garry Collins, president, English Teachers Association of Queensland
 

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ President
Tags: Curriculum matters

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