Schools `Are Wasting Their Time Teaching Grammar'
Cassidy, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)
SCHOOLS ARE wasting their time teaching children the rules of English grammar because there is no evidence that it has any impact on pupils' writing skills, a government-funded study has concluded.
Ministers should cut back the teaching of formal grammar and let children "learn to write by writing", academics from the University of York said.
They called for a review of the national curriculum, arguing that there was little evidence that grammar teaching was "worth the time" spent on it.
The findings were dismissed by traditionalists as "absolute nonsense" and an attempt by academics to reintroduce the "trendy" teaching methods of the 1960s.
The study, which researchers claim is the largest review of existing research on grammar teaching, is likely to embarrass ministers who have put formal grammar teaching at the heart of their drive to raise literacy standards. It recommended that teachers should concentrate on teaching children to combine short sentences into longer ones to improve their writing skills. They found no evidence that teaching the grammar of word order or syntax helped pupils aged from five to 16 to write more fluently or accurately.
Professor Richard Andrews, who co-ordinated the research, said his team's findings did not mean that teaching formal grammar was "not interesting or useful in its own right" but he continued: "In a pressured curriculum, where the development of literacy is a high priority, there will be better ways of teaching writing.
"If there is little evidence that formal grammar teaching of syntax works, then practices based on …
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Publication information: Article title: Schools `Are Wasting Their Time Teaching Grammar'. Contributors: Cassidy, Sarah - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 19, 2005. Page number: 15. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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