So many folks fear grammar. When I fly on planes--back when I did that sort of a thing--I am always inevitably reading student writing. And, also inevitably, someone makes some sort of comment like "are you an English teacher? I better watch my grammar." I always smile politely and fake-chuckle. And then I go back to grading--because I don't want this guy to think I will want to talk for the next two hours (I'm not a New Englander by birth, but one local social norm that I totally embrace is not talking to people I don't know unless I absolutely have to).
But in my heart, what I want to say, is that there are a hundred other things to worry about in this piece of writing before we get to how great or not great the grammar is. It's like that moment in Apollo 13 when Tom Hanks explains that his crew is worrying about step 378 when they need to be worrying about step one. And I almost always want to say that this kid's grammar is perfectly fine, it's the writing that sort of sucks.
Grammar. I know that secretly every English major I teach, and in particular the ones that want to be teachers, think that if only they were grand master grammarians their writing would be perfect--and probably the heavens would open up and hosts of angels would crown you goddess of all things good. And I also know that it is the secret dark shame of these same folks that they don't know every rule.
But what I want you to contemplate is that knowing the rules of grammar is not the same as knowing how to write. And that is the unsaid argument of the three chapters of Constance Weaver (available for download on our class syllabus) I'm asking you to read for today's class.
WHAT TO POST: What, in your opinion, are the TOP FIVE TAKEAWAYS from Constance Weaver? For your reader's notes, try to indicate at least five important ideas that you found interesting. Please indicate ideas that unsettled you or delighted you or a little of both. THEN, post a grammar or punctuation rule that you always feel like you get wrong.
HOW TO POST: For everyone but the first person to post, read the post of the person who posted just before you. Reply directly to that post by adding to their list of five--so things you think they missed--or expanding what they have to say about that top five--including maybe sometimes when you think they are not quite right about how they are interpreting what Weaver is saying. Here too, please indicate ideas that unsettled or delighted you or a little of both. And don't forget to post your grammar/punctuation hate rule. Additionally, if you feel like you know what the rule is or why it is hard to follow the rule that the person posting ahead of you wrote about, feel free to give it a go and try to explain it.
We'll read and discuss what you wrote in class on Tuesday.