Monday, February 25, 2008

National Grammar Day

As the Boston Globe points out, "March, though a long month, is sadly short on holidays." It is a month that seems to drag on endlessly, even though April and the promise of better weather are just around the corner. To enliven this dreary month comes a new holiday all teachers of writing can celebrate--National Grammar Day, to be celebrated on March 4. Click here to read an article about the holiday. National Grammar Day was declared by The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), founded in 2004 by Martha Brockenbrough. SPOGG "seeks members appalled by wanton displays of Bad English' and threatens 'mayhem, misery, madness' all around if we ignore the rules. On the other hand, says its manifesto, 'we also encourage having a sense of humor about language.'"

I agree that a sense of humor is important, but I also think it is a shame that so few students today seem to receive formal instruction in English grammar. How many students learn how to diagram a sentence? Although I hated it at the time, I now realize that sentence diagrams made me understand how to apply the rules of grammar. My students know I am a stickler for good grammar; I often have occasion to discuss lapses in correct usage when meeting with students to go over drafts of the research guides they do for my course. Besides not having been taught grammar, students often do not read good writing, which is probably the best, least painful way to learn grammar. So while we are celebrating National Grammar Day, let's also celebrate reading.

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