18th Mar 2017
We love listening to the radio when we're in the office, and when the band London Grammar came on the other day, it got us thinking about grammar not just in London but across all the land: how is the 'subject' of grammar going now that we're a few years in with the not-so-new curriculum?
When Curriculum 2014 was published, many teachers had their reservations about the statutory technical terms that were to be covered and about the seemingly hugely sophisticated level at which children by year 6 were to be able to write. Other 'wobbles' were caused by teachers' confidence - or lack of - in their own writing abilities, let alone their ability to teach to the curriculum. Our worry was that schools might be tempted to revert to archaic methods of delivery through 'drilling' children in grammar or teaching those Appendix 2 requirements through 'bolt on' and decontextualised activities rather than teaching within meaningful contexts.
At The Literacy Tree, we have always maintained that teaching through a quality text, where the grammar is embedded is the most effective way to teach and we believe that the best books provide the best contexts and purposes for writing. Certainly, in our lovely schools we see fantastic examples of children who write with flair and control and of teachers who feel empowered by their new-found grammatical understanding. Only the other day, a teacher was telling us of how she used to loathe teaching writing but now, she believes her teaching has been revolutionised, reneging on her initial decision that she (spot the authorial influence here) would not ever be able to teach even a teeny bit of Grammar ...
Curiously enough though, another bi-product of the grammar requirements seems to be that many children who often are self-proclaimed 'non-writers', also feel that sense of empowerment through having rules to follow; we think that children really like knowing what's what and feel powerful when they're able to identify and use technical devices. Let us not forget that although we're coming from a time when it was fashionable to rename and repackage terms (connectives ... we're looking at you!) for children to make things 'child-friendly', actually calling a spade a spade has helped many children develop their meta-language around reading and writing. And let's face it: if a 3 year old is able to memorise a thousand different dinosaur names; discuss the difference between carnivores and herbivores as well as glibly refer to the Cretaceous period, then a couple of years down the line, when in year one, they'll probably be able to cope with terms like 'suffix' and 'apostrophe'.
Photos from The Grove School, Cambridge