Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Schoolhouse Rocks!

This summer, I'm determined to teach Younger Daughter the times tables.  To that end, I downloaded a bunch of Schoolhouse Rocks multiplication songs and made a CD to play in the car.

I also downloaded songs teaching the parts of speech.  It's shocking to see what was considered basic elementary-school fare in the 1970's that is now not taught at all.  Just ask your elementary-school (or even middle-school!) kid what a pronoun is.  Go ahead, I dare you.  After she's fixed you with that dead-halibut look, play her this video:


  1. Mr. Morton is a great example. It teaches subject and predicate! How many kids today have heard of a predicate?

  2. At my primary school we were perpetually stuck on nouns, verbs and adjectives because people still didn't get them by Year 7 (where I live primary school is from years 1-7, but soon they're going to make year 7 high school too).

    I must admit that I don't know what a predicate is (though I have heard of them), due to the aforementioned issue. I know what active voice and passive voice is from learning Chinese, and I got a vague idea of what an infinitive is from my brief foray into learning French, but I've learned very little about grammar from English classes.

    I would say, however, that I think that some of the other skills that I've learned in high school English, like how to analyse a text and construct a coherent argument, have been more useful than simply knowing different parts of grammar. Thankfully I did read enough when I was younger to pick up good enough grammar to write coherent sentences, so grammar wasn't really a problem in the first place. I guess the issue probably arises more for some of the other kids in my primary school class, who still couldn't write a coherent sentence in Year 6 or 7- one such example that I remember was "Tom and Jack trying to mark up the football." Perhaps they could have benefited from more explicit grammar instruction, but I think that for those of us who could write reasonably well, our efforts were probably better placed in learning the other skills that I mentioned above. After all, there are probably going to be far more times when we'll have to write letters or essays than when we'll have to name parts of grammar.

  3. I learned no grammar in school. Sainted Husband, a linguist, throws around terms like "pluperfect" and I don't know what he's talking about. Is it necessary to know these terms? It's arguable.

    If the schools had stopped teaching parts of speech and grammatical terms because they'd made a coherent decision to use that time to teach something else, I might be OK with it. But of course, that's not what happened.

    I feel that basic grammar, like basic arithmetic, got thrown out in an attempt to get rid of "rote learning", and it hasn't been replaced by anything better. The time is now taken up with a completely incoherent system that isn't accomplishing rote learning or deep understanding either.