The Grammar Debate
Thank you Darline for walking us through a smart consideration of Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar by Patrick Hartwell. Darline’s link: Presentation Powerpoint
Scholars have been arguing for decades whether grammar should be taught formally in schools. Some research suggests that teaching grammar does nothing to improve composition. Other scholars insist that grammar is basic and necessary, and that we face a literacy crisis today partly because of poor grammar instruction. But one thing the article does make clear is that much research has been done on this topic. 75 years’ worth of research, and yet, the issue of whether grammar is foundational to writing instruction still remains unresolved. As we read Hartwell together, we come to apprehend that the complexities of linguistic tradition(s) and language acquisition makes it difficult to pinpoint a “perfect formula” for the role grammar must play in writing pedagogy. Perhaps formal grammar instruction pedagogy should be overhauled instead of scrapped altogether. Effective writing instructors know there is not just one way to learn, and we accommodate different learning styles in schools and universities with various classroom procedures and pedagogies. Whether we will ever be able to agree on a clear and final role that grammar must play in writing instruction, it seems to me (and Darline as well) that we must teach it in some capacity – offering it as a tool in our students’ toolboxes. It is a critical tool which can aid in the metacognition and metalinguistic awareness of their own acquired knowledge.
Our ongoing discussion of equity
From a concern over the role that grammar might play in a writing classroom, we turned our attention in the second part of class to the question of equity. The rapid acceleration and adoption of digital content for learning is a pressing catalyst for digital equity.
So what does it mean to be a “good” digital citizen in a globalized context? How can we recognize and redress conditions that deny some students access to the educational opportunities enjoyed by their peers. How can we work together to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all?
We first took a look at the article by Paul Gorski which share three critical terms: -cultural competence, -cultural proficiency, and -equity literacy. Presented like ascendent steps on a skill-based latter, these terms have helped us think through the goals we make or take to building a fair learning environment. Equity literacy (as the most desired of the three skills to attain in this tiered formulation) describes the skills and dispositions that allow us to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all learners.
We then took a moment to spend time with Sherri Spelic’s thoughtful prompt which makes us think further about the blindspots that are so inherent when teachers design their learning environments.
We also looked at this powerful showcase of how bias and prejudice work on our hearts and minds:
Finally, we took a closer look at how racism works. I think it is important to note that curiosity about human difference (in and of itself) is not a problem. It is actually a significant POSITIVE trait to have an inquiring mind and want to learn about something you don’t know about. But there is much revealed by how you might ask a person who is different from you about their difference. There is the kind of curiosity that opens up dialogue (encouraged and critical to any learning) verses the kind of curiosity that is bathed in privilege and arrogant ignorance (see below video). The distinction makes all the difference:
In addition to these food-for-thought prompts, I also want to share with all of you the second Equity Unbound Studio Visit we conducted this week regarding the work of striving for equity in our classrooms – it was certainly another profound and timely conversation:
What is next?
- Please read Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality by Michelle Gibson, Matha Marinara, and Deborah Meem. Christina will present on this article in the first part of our seminar style class time.
- Write your fifth blog post, reflecting on Christina’s chosen article as well as any thoughts you are formulating about the equity discussion overall. (I encourage you to take a peek at the Studio Visit above to prompt further thoughts.)
- Don’t forget you can tweet comments/thoughts and your blog post to the #unboundeq hashtag!
- We will continue with our #unboundeq activities (on the theme of Equity). For our second half of class, I will focus on the TED talk on “intersectionality” from the Equity Unbound suggested activities. I think this selection might be a good follow up to the Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality article.
See you next Monday! Enjoy the weekend.