Textbooks covering grammar
As your editorial suggests, textbooks that deal effectively with grammar would be a useful resource for teachers in schools (“A lesson learnt from Singapore”, 15/4).
It needs to be clearly understood, however, that grammar textbooks from the 1950s or 60s dusted off and tarted up with some colour print would not suffice. To be genuinely useful, new textbooks dealing with grammar would need to be properly aligned with the sensible approach to knowledge about language to be found in the English component of the Australian Curriculum.
In addition, the grammatical patterns of the language should be learnt in the process of working with texts that have value in their own right, both the ones that students read and those that they compose in response to them.
There is an overwhelming body of research evidence that shows that the way grammar was generally taught in schools prior to the 1970s did not really work well for the majority of students. Then, grammar was disconnected from other areas of the curriculum and students were often bored by arid exercises with deliberately faulty sentences that had no meaningful connection to any genuine writing.
Let’s have useful resources by all means, but we should be careful about unproductively trying to turn back the clock.
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)
|Tags: Curriculum matters|
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