In Loving Memory of School House Rock

Yesterday, our final class discussion was inspired by Anne Curzan’s “Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammar”. Grammar has been a fundamental part of my education since grade school. I have fond memories of participating in classroom activities focused on the parts of speech and watching the infamous School House Rock time and time again. In fact, my school’s spring musical in 2006 was School House Rock. I bet you didn’t know there was a musical adaptation, did you? If you would like to borrow a VHS copy of the production, please e-mail Anyways, for me, grammar was almost always presented in a non-threatening, and even fun, way—and that made all the difference. In high school, the trend continued as grammar lessons were incorporated into my English classes through open and thought provoking discussions. As I grew as a writer, my knowledge and understanding of grammar grew, too. Needless to say, I entered yesterday’s discussion a little biased. While I completely agree that prescriptive rules of grammar undoubtedly need to be questioned, I also think they should still hold some weight—or at least exist—in the grammar conversation. My favorite line from Curzan’s piece is, “Grammar is not, and should not ever be framed as, a “Because I say so” subject”. Teaching grammar should be an open dialogue between students and teachers, with teachers never demanding rules but explaining concepts. If English classrooms facilitate these open conversations about grammar concepts, hopefully grammar instruction can stick around a little longer! So when you’re happy (Hurray!), or sad (Awww!), or frightened (EEK!), or mad (Rats!), or excited (Wow!), or glad (HEY!), an interjection stops the sentence right! – School House Rock



One thought on “In Loving Memory of School House Rock

  1. Before I begin, can I just say that no, I had no idea there was a musical adaptation of School House Rock, and don’t be surprised if you receive an email from me asking to see the original production. Olivia, I love your enthusiasm for grammar. I wish I had the same passion you have shown in this post. I too have memories of participating in grammar exercises, but I can’t say they were exactly good ones. My teachers stressed the memorization of the uses for each grammar rule, but never really took time to explain the meanings for each use. Whenever it was time for grammar exercises, I would let out an audible “ugh.” I too enjoy the time from Curzan’s piece that you highlighted, and wish more teachers had this approach when teaching the fundamentals of grammar. I agree with you that an open conversation about grammar concepts will create a better learning environment for students.

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