A question mark

How to make English lessons really boring

David Gribble

The creators of the national primary curriculum have assumed on the one hand that all children will develop at exactly the same rate, and on the other that the eleven-month difference in age between the eldest and the youngest in each year-group can be ignored.
They have also forgotten that the purpose of writing is to convey information, or stories, or ideas, or plans, or questions, or instructions, and that good writing shows such qualities as clarity, observation, suspense, originality and humour.

Rather than making any recommendations that will encourage children to write for a purpose, the authors of the curriculum have prescribed a technical vocabulary that they presumably imagine to be helpful. Here are a few examples:     

Year one (when you are five or six)

Year two (when you are six or seven)
    noun phrase
     tense (present or past)

Year three (when you are seven or eight)
    subordinate clause

Year four (when you are eight or nine)
    possessive pronoun
    adverbial (used as a noun!)

Year five (when you are nine or ten)
    modal verb
    relative pronoun

Year six (when you are ten or eleven)

I am personally getting close to year eighty, I have had half a dozen books and countless articles published, I studied Latin and Greek until I was sixteen and I have a degree in modern languages, but I am afraid I ought to be kept back in year six, because I am baffled by the word 'ellipsis.'  Or perhaps I should still be in year four, because I do not know what a determiner is.

Or perhaps I should give up writing altogether because I have forgotten that 'or' is a coordinating conjunction, and should not be preceded by a full stop.




#1 John Potter 2017-05-18 01:48
Absolutely right. In my case I'm close to year seventy and was a university professor in Japan with many publications, but I would also have to be kept in year four as several of these grammatical terms I either don't know or have forgotten. Most of my Japanese colleagues have studied English grammar at school and know it far better than I do but they are unable to communicate in English or write it with any fluency.

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