|What "were" they "thinking"?|
I think it’s telling that Young’s article conflates “not always following the rules of grammar as I understand and venerate them” - and perhaps even “making the odd mistake” - with “being illiterate”. This is the damaging corollary of this sort of mindless pedantry, and it makes having a proper and sensible discussion about the teaching of grammar practically impossible. If the response to “Actually I don’t think that teaching grammar at this level to such young children is appropriate” is “Look! Look! You missed out a comma! That means you’re stupid and I don’t have to listen to you! Yah boo sucks!” then debate is futile.
Just to reiterate: I think grammar is important, and I think that it is important to teach good grammar. But I believe that the best way to teach good grammar is to expose children to as much well-written and well-spoken English as possible, for as long as possible, so that when you finally come to describe to them what grammar is, their heads are already full of it. It is not to cram their heads full of concepts like “adverbial clause” and then test them on those concepts.
John's website is at www.visitingauthor.com.
He's on twitter as @JohnDougherty8
His most recent books include:
Finn MacCool and the Giant's Causeway - a retelling for the Oxford Reading Tree
Bansi O'Hara and the Edges of Hallowe'en
Zeus Sorts It Out - "A sizzling comedy... a blast for 7+" , and one of The Times' Children's Books of 2011, as chosen by Amanda Craig