Grammar teaching in the USA

  • [Belinda Bicknell 1997] My American, 4th-grade, nine-year-old daughter is (newly) attending St. Francis Catholic school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In the subject of “English,” she is learning the classification of words and identification of grammatical functions. These are being taught from a text book (_Language for Daily Use_, Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983; n.b. the date!). They will not be diagramming but are identifying nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and subjects and predicates in sentences. Fourth grade is when these subjects are first taught. My daughter has no problems learning the concepts and applying them to her writing and conversations about writing. The curriculum is standard for the entire diocese, and you might check whether the teaching of grammar is standard practice in parochial schools. In the public school system which she formerly attended, grammar is not a part of the curriculum–ever. This is one of the reasons we removed our children from public school (“new” math being the other).
  • [Emilce Rees in 1997] One of my colleagues, an American, had to do “sentence diagramming” at middle school (State School and at a type of school called Magnet School, for above-average kids), in Kansas City. Again, this was 18 years ago. Sentence diagramming was also called “sentence trees” (subject/object of sentence had to be specified etc).
  • James Kirchner in 1997 comparing the USA with the Czech Republic.
  • [Paul Purdom] I went to a different US school almost every year from 1945 (first grade) through 8th grade, so I got a pretty good sample of what the US was doing at that time. My only formal study of grammar was in 5-th grade, (Dexter MI) and my impression was that it was there only because my teacher thought it was important. What I learned was similar to what your web site calls the Reed Kellogg system, although at the time I knew it just as diagramming sentences. No later teacher thought it important. In high school (Philadelphia PA), I learned a lot of grammar in my German class, but we used no formal system. There we were using texts from the 1920s because the teachers thought they were better than the more recent texts (mainly because they discussed grammar).
  • Some videos of actual teaching:  Mary Beth Steven teaching a fifth-grade (age 10?) class somewhere in Wisconsin, with lots of class input and discussion.
  • A historical review article by Martha Kolln and Craig Hancock
 

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