Tuesday, September 25, 2007

‘Jolly Grammar’

Whenever I hear those New Labour spin words like ‘modernisation’ and ‘reform’ I think of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ and believe the opposite. For public services they usually lead to privatisation and the introduction of a low cost provider. In short, black means white.

Ever since the introduction of the ‘Literacy Hour’ English teaching in primary schools has been over laden with grammar and word or sentence tasks. Children need to be immersed in the spoken language and to gain a love of story telling. As Michael Rosen commented ‘The Gruffalo’ grips children’s imagination and they want to find out what happens at the end, they engage with the character.

Instead literacy has been reduced to a dull mechanical exercise replete with targets and levels. I’m not arguing against grammar it is of course the framework around which language is constructed; in the same way every building requires scaffolding. However, the same metal poles can produce a hideous carbuncle or a beautiful structure that lifts the human spirit.

Could anyone explain why we need whole lessons that instruct children about the small number of words in the English language that use silent ‘b’ or ‘w’ or ‘k’?

As teachers we are trying to get children to ‘buy into’ reading against the competing attractions of television and DVDs. Why bother to read when it just a decoding exercise?

A classic piece of marketing is the ‘Jolly Grammar’ series it conjures up pictures of bright-eyed enthusiastic children merrily filling in work sheets. Please don’t call it ‘Jolly Grammar’ kindly rename it, here are some suggestions- (with the help of the thesaurus)

· ‘Dull Grammar’

· ‘Uninspiring Grammar’

· ‘Tedious Grammar’

· ‘Monotonous Grammar’

· ‘Lacklustre Grammar’

· ‘Lifeless Grammar’

· ‘Mind-numbingly boring Grammar’


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