We put our love where we have put our labour.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is slavery.
Men seldom give pleasure when they are not pleased themselves.
The Kingman Report into the learning and teaching of English was published in 1988. Reviewing it in a leading article *, The Guardian assumed as a proven fact that there are two extreme factions in the English teaching profession. One is characterized by a 'yearning for more learning by rote' and a 'return to traditional grammar lessons'; the other is distinguished by its 'belief that rules should not be taught but absorbed'.
The editorial went on mildly to berate Kingman for steering a timid course between those extremes. Yet it was itself remarkably indecisive. It scoffed at the notion of 'learning by osmosis', but was also certain that 'a return to traditional grammar lessons would not raise standards'. Not only did it fail to supply the answers it found absent in the Report: it seemed to accept that one must be 'for creativity' or 'for accuracy'-that the controlling emphasis must fall either on enjoyment and pleasurable absorption or on discipline and earned knowledge.
I found this puzzling then, and I continue to do so now. Surely it is not a question of either/or but of both/and?
It is doubly wrong to reject learning by osmosis on the one hand and direct grammatical training on the other. Both are essential; both can be made pleasurable and productive; each complements the other without being enough on its own.
It is incorrect to assume that no effective learning can be achieved by
* The Guardian, April 30, 1988, p. 18.