Patrick Hartwell’s, Grammar, Grammar’s and the Teaching of Grammar, and James Berlin’s, Contemporary Composition arguments captured my engagement and left me curious. I was left wondering with an overall question pertaining to the readings: which is more important, grammar as Hartwell stresses or the meaning of relationships as Berlin claims in contribution with his four dominate groups of pedagogical theory?
To began, Hartwell stresses the importance of grammar and its fundamental need in “mastering literacy” (208). By doing so, Hartwell composes the five meanings of grammar and he demonstrates each “grammar rule” individually by breaking down the concepts and understandings throughout the chapter.
Berlin believes in four elements of distinct pedagogical approaches are the best way in which instructors teach students. In doing so, he concludes, “learning to write is not a matter of learning the rules that govern the use of the semicolon or the names of the sentence structures, nor is it a matter of manipulating words; it is a matter of making meanings, and that is the work of the active mind” (247).
That being said, Berlin is implying that grammar is not as important as Hartwell demonstrates, and overall how the mind comprehends and learns overrides grammatical structures.
The more I ponder both issues of grammar and the approaches of making meaning, the more it reminds me of the saying, ”which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In this sense, the chicken and the egg are continuously recursive just as the function of grammar and meaning of the active mind coincide with one another.
To shift gears back to grammar and its importance according to Hartwell, why don’t we stress this more in our classrooms?
Should we incorporate more grammar structure within our classrooms or focus more on meaning and reality as Berlin suggests?
To elaborate on the structure of grammar in the classroom, I try to incorporate a “crash course” of grammar if I notice it is needed. In the first few days of class I ask students to address areas where they think improvement is needed within their writing. Many times, I read the word “grammar” as in improvement.
If students are asking for help, as teachers, instructors, professors, are we not obligated as coaches, mentors, and human beings to offer our help when asked?