You have to wonder at the thinking behind the English Grammar curriculum when you read regularly about the things the children have to learn at increasingly young ages.
If you’ve a child around primary age you’ll no doubt have come across parts of the English language that they’re required to use like ‘frontal adverbials’ and ‘subordinating conjunctions’. And you’ve no doubt asked yourself, as are many other parents and professionals; ‘what’s the point?’
As the author and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen says about it on many blog posts (see this one on the SPAG tests) the over categorising of parts of language is leading our children to “crap writing”.
Parents are not the only people wondering at the idiocy of this part of the curriculum. Gaby Hinsliff at the Guardian fears that our children are being turned into grammar robots, as she calls them in this excellent article here, and are having their love of story destroyed.
And it seems that even the professionals who were on the panel of advisors responsible for the grammar curriculum are now having misgivings about it as is explained in this report.
The problem now is where does this leave the children?
Our children are stuck with a curriculum that seems ridiculously inappropriate in getting them to effectively – and happily – use language to communicate with. Since isn’t that what language is for? It has moved away from being a tool to communicate with to being a tool to test with. And is in danger of putting children off the written word for good.
What can we do about it? As parents we obviously want to do our best to help our children achieve so we need to work alongside them and support their learning. This perhaps means working out for ourselves first what it all means since, unless we’re English graduates, we’ve probably never heard of these grammatical terms. No shame in that – I’d guess there are many successful writers who’d also admit to being unfamiliar with them!
As well as the wonders of just asking Google, there are some useful pages on the BBC learning sites. Plus Tutors on this site, of course.
Otherwise, we just have to be as encouraging as we can to the children. But meanwhile lend our support to those already questioning the validity of these elements of the curriculum, like those named above, by adding our voices, commenting and campaigning, demanding something different of our ministers, in the hope that eventually the curriculum will be changed to something more appropriate to the majority of children.