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Captain Morgan
04-11-2007, 01:31 PM
I was thinking today about my experiences in grade 6-8. My English teacher was rather terrible at teaching grammar, and I think our definition for what a verb was went like this, 'Verb -- An action word. Shows action.'

Obviously verbs go a lot deeper than that. But I came across the same simplistic definition may times since then. This leads me to think on how highschool students would fair on even the simplest of examinations.

For example, if there was a surprise test for highschool students and they had to choose the verb in the sentence:

"The clock was fast."

I wouldn't doubt that more than half the class world incorrectly circle 'fast' as the verb, not realizing it is in fact an adjective. In fact, I bet you most of them wouldn't be able to tell an adverb from an adjective either!

However, it could just be that the educational environment I grew up in was terrible in my region. I'm curious what others have to say... similar experiences?

Mandy-Jane
04-11-2007, 01:41 PM
I can't remember much about my school days (they were so long ago), but I know I grasped the concept of nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs remarkably easily. I don't know whether this is because I had a fantastic teacher, or whether it was just one of those things I was good at. I was absolutely shocking at maths and anything to do with numbers, so maybe that was just making up for it.

I have to say that in terms of things such as spelling, correct usage of figures of speech and even punctuation, there seems to be a dreadful amount of people out there who have absolutely no idea. I can only guess that somehow, the standard of teaching these things has dropped. My mother-in-law is a teacher and she's told me that there are younger teachers coming up now who are really clueless about these things, and are passing it onto their students.

Sandi LeFaucheur
04-11-2007, 02:55 PM
I used to love diagramming sentences. Underline nouns with straight lines, verbs with wiggly lines, adjectives get round brackets and adverbs, square brackets. Nothing like a sentence completely ripped to shreds!

When I became a school secretary in England in the early 90s, I was horror-struck to find out that not only were children not taught to diagram sentences anymore, but also grammar wasn't taught because it would stifle the little blighters' creativity! Well, I reckon if a kid is going to call another kid a "(bleeping) little (bleep) (bleep)", he'd better at least be able to tell me which of those words was an adjective and which a noun.

maestrowork
04-11-2007, 03:35 PM
I grew up in Hong Kong with a British education... we were taught that "was" was the past tense of the verb "to be." I believe we did diagramming as well, but I don't remember.

Jamesaritchie
04-11-2007, 05:20 PM
I was thinking today about my experiences in grade 6-8. My English teacher was rather terrible at teaching grammar, and I think our definition for what a verb was went like this, 'Verb -- An action word. Shows action.'

Obviously verbs go a lot deeper than that. But I came across the same simplistic definition may times since then. This leads me to think on how highschool students would fair on even the simplest of examinations.

For example, if there was a surprise test for highschool students and they had to choose the verb in the sentence:

"The clock was fast."

I wouldn't doubt that more than half the class world incorrectly circle 'fast' as the verb, not realizing it is in fact an adjective. In fact, I bet you most of them wouldn't be able to tell an adverb from an adjective either!

However, it could just be that the educational environment I grew up in was terrible in my region. I'm curious what others have to say... similar experiences?

I tend to think teachers get too much of the blame. I'll bet whatever grammar book you used had much more to say about verbs, and I'll be the upper twenty to forty percent of the class knew what the book had to say.

If half the class circled got it wrong, then the other half got it right, and the teacher was doing a pretty fair job.

No teacher is any better than his students, and in any normal class, half the students are below average. Good students learn despite the teacher, and bad students fail to learn regardless of the teacher.

But, yes, half the high school students anywhere may well fail to identify the verb us such a sentence. In my opinion, however, it's difficult to put more than a fraction of the blame on the teacher or the educational environment because I guarantee the correct information is available to every student, and the ones who want to learn, will learn.

Far too much emphasis is placed on teaching responsibility, and not nearly enough on learning responsibility, or parental responsibility.

Soccer Mom
04-11-2007, 11:39 PM
Personally, I adored School House Rock. I now own the entire collection and they really are marvelous. (unpack your adjectives)

And I loved diagraming sentences. We did loads of them.

Captain Morgan
04-12-2007, 12:54 AM
I tend to think teachers get too much of the blame. I'll bet whatever grammar book you used had much more to say about verbs, and I'll be the upper twenty to forty percent of the class knew what the book had to say.

I never had a grammar book in school, the schools never supplied them. Grammar was only taught in trade 6 through 8, and this was just by copying down solutions & poor explanations from the chalk-board.

I also was never taught diagramming too, which I have been told made things easier for students to grasp than today's definition system.

Anyhow, another example of just how poor some of my teachers were, I spent all my years twisting it's with its and I never once got flagged on it!

Cat Scratch
04-12-2007, 03:08 AM
I was good at grammar as a child, but I think this is because I was an avid reader. I could already tell which sentences worked, even if I didn't quite know why. Therefore, when it came to learning the "why" it didn't come first with the burden of convincing me "what."

Maryn
04-12-2007, 06:29 PM
I had a so-so grammar education, from teachers I now realize were not very good at it. However, the study of Latin in high school made an awful lot of the murky parts of grammar 'click' for me. Transitive and intransitive verbs, indirect objects, the difference between second person singular and plural, lay vs. lie, and all sort of others things which had sort of made sense before suddenly made better sense and became easy to remember.

Although, like others has said, reading a ton helped a lot, too.

Maryn, decent with grammar when she wants to be

Judg
04-13-2007, 09:22 AM
I remember getting some rather intense grammar in Grade 8. I irritated the other students because I kept asking questions when they just wanted it to be over. I got the last laugh because I learned it better than they did. But I really learned grammar when I took French and German in high school from traditional teachers who believed in rules and in teaching them. When you have done umpteen million exercises on changing sentences from active to passive, or from one tense to another, it's awfully hard not to know what a verb is. And when you have to pick an adjectival ending depending on whether the article is definite or indefinite, which of four cases it is in, which of three genders, whether it's singular or plural... English grammar seems so incredibly simple after that.