Australians to learn grammar!

According to news reports today, the government’s new national curriculum, which looks like it will have plenty of problems all of its own, WILL include the teaching of English grammar, punctuation, and phonics-based spelling to primary school children.

Pricsian, AElfric and Dante!1 Can you imagine that? In twenty years’ time, university lecturers might not have to be teaching their top English students what a verb is. Or the difference between a comma and a semi-colon (a difference which, I will concede, I didn’t figure out until second year myself).

However, let’s consider this: the last time grammar was systematically taught in Australia was in the 1970s. We have thirty years worth of the population who weren’t taught to parse a sentence. Most people didn’t get to learn that at uni, either, including (since it was struck of the curriculum) most of the teachers out who are now out there working, and supposed to be imparting the joys of sentence parsing to the youth of tomorrow. I hope the government offers some serious teacher-training courses in grammar, or this will be a giant farce.


1. I am now swearing by these three on all matters grammatical.


2 Responses to “Australians to learn grammar!”

  1. Eggs Maledict Says:

    “Or the difference between a comma and a semi-colon (a difference which, I will concede, I didn’t figure out until second year myself).”

    Snap. I’d go so far as to say it was almost certainly from the same person. I always thought they were like ‘strong’ commas, embarrassing as it is to admit, based on the context I’d always seen them on. Thus Kurt Vonnegut has become my rock of sanity:

    “they are transvestite herm-aphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

    I should point out that Vonnegut used semi-colons a lot when he wrote, which explains my love of that quote.

    Though I still haven’t been able to put one into an essay since; I’ve put that one there because I think I need to build up confidence in more casual settings.

    As regards teaching grammar…I learned (some of) the more complex areas of grammar from my German teacher but I never actually needed any of it. You get an instinctive grasp of the thing and if you need to, for say another language, you can learn it.

    That said, I can’t remember whether I was actually taught the basics at primary school or whether I picked them up somewhere else. I started at a Steinar school (say hello to guerilla reading lessons at home) and then moved to a good public school so my early learnings are very fuzzy memories…

  2. barry.titus Says:

    for him who does not know how to appreciate beowulf, first, an origin of english verse form, a four stress line divided into two parts, each of which contains vowel and consonant reptition. second, the origins of english in norse languages, which some consider beautiful to observe, and third a view of pre christian norse values.

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