ERIC Number: ED284253
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Grammar as a Hostage to Ideology.
Claims that grammar instruction does not improve written composition have led some teachers to a confident consensus that they do not have to deal with grammar, yet many still firmly believe in teaching it. Grammar instruction (meaning pedagogical or school grammar rather than scientific or linguistic grammar) can be viewed from the metaphorical point of view of two religious ideologies, fundamentalism and secular humanism. With respect to language, fundamentalists might say that outside of humanity there exists a body of stable and fixed rules which are the "true" forms of language. Textbooks are the authority, in parallel with the unquestioned authority of the Bible or Koran. On the other hand, secular humanists, who emphasize the uniqueness of each individual and relativism, would maintain that people do not need to learn external rules (like grammar) consciously and explicitly, that social settings and practice naturally constrain personal efforts at oral and written communication and thinking. The "whole language" approach to English language arts fits in with the secular humanist ideology. Perhaps grammar can be successfully taught from either perspective, and there is probably a continuum of positions rather than a dichotomy in practice, but it is helpful to use these analogies to clarify positions on the grammar teaching debate. (Five pages of references are included.) (SKC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (15th, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, May 30-June 3, 1987).