A FB friend of a FB friend of mine recently posted a picture of a handwritten (in cursive) worksheet on noun clauses. Many comments followed about kids today not understanding noun clauses (or cursive, for that matter). I joined the chorus of comments and added my own lamentations about the demise of good grammar in general.
Many people today presume that students don’t need to understand noun clauses or, furthermore, any of the “old school” grammar. I beg to differ.
A few years ago a staff development presenter from the state department told us to stop using worksheets or what she called the old “drill and skill” method of teaching. When I confessed that I had typically used worksheets to teach participles, I asked her to suggest an alternative method.
She replied, “I have never taught English before, but you might try dressing up like a participle and acting it out.”
Much laughter followed her suggestion, and I continued to use the “drill and skill” method in my classroom. I never dressed up like a participle.
Even though I am no longer a full-time English teacher, I am still concerned about the mastery of grammar.
When I heard a well-known news anchor say, “You should invite Gayle and I to your house for dinner,” I cringed.
I yelled at the TV when an HGTV realtor exclaimed, “This would be a great house for my brother and I.”
I laughed (to keep from crying) when a bachelorette twin proclaimed, “He gave roses to both my sister and I.”
This improper pronoun pandemic is out of control. Even supposedly educated people improperly use nominative case pronouns because they think they sound sophisticated. However, to those of us who learned proper grammar skills through repeated classroom drills, these “sophisticates” sound simply foolish.
The “drill and skill” method once succeeded in preparing students to speak and write with clarity and eloquence. To society today I say, “Let’s start re-using those worksheets.”