Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Grammar...

What in the world do they DO at school these days?

I haven’t been inside a classroom for decades, and I can’t experience today’s educational procedures through my children, because I don’t have any. But I keep hearing these stories about how parents are complaining that their kids are given TOO MUCH work—particularly homework. And I just can’t connect that with the products of the educational system with whom I come in contact every day.

They can’t spell, they can barely read. They don’t know how many ounces are in a pound. I’m not sure they know how many inches are in a foot or a yard…we don’t have much call to use those measurements at the restaurant. Having been raised with digital everything, they can barely tell time on a regular clock with hands. Without the register telling them how much change to give back to a customer for his twenty-dollar bill, they would be utterly confounded.

Given these glaring examples of the absence of education in education these days, I suppose it’s WAY too much for me to ask that they have some grasp of basic grammar. After all, terrible grammar has become completely ubiquitous. There are days when I think if I see one more misplaced or inappropriately added apostrophe, I might just explode.

People! Apostrophes are meant to show possession, or to replace letters left out when forming a contraction. There is no apostrophe in a plural word. I don’t care whether it "looks right" or doesn’t. It’s "bananas," not "banana’s." It’s "potatoes," not "potato’s." Nor "potatoe’s." And, by the way, the singular form of that word is not "potatoe." Augh!

And then there’s poor little "its." It’s that confusing little word that doesn’t seem to know its own spelling. Here’s the thing. "It’s" means "it is" or "is has." If you want to show that something belongs to "it," you use the word "its." NO APOSTROPHE. Just i-t-s.

I always thought that counter-intuitive. "Its" shows possession, so it should be "it’s." Right? Wrong. Here’s a little insight into this issue that I discovered in Lynne Truss’s delightful little book, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves." "It" is a pronoun.Like "you," or "they," or "we." Possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes. It is "yours, theirs, ours." Not "your’s, their’s, our’s." Ergo, it’s "its." Not "it’s." There you go.

Okay, that concludes today’s grammar lesson. Now…does anyone know a simple, fool-proof way to teach (adult) children how to make change? I’d be willing to part with serious money for that particular exercise…

7 comments:

mutualaide said...

Well, thank you for the refresher course.  Although I believe I have it and its rules down, one can never be too careful with apostrophes!  I have found myself questioning myself on any number of occasions now that I am out here in J-land reading all the poor grammar for all the world to see.  :)

As to change, well, I've no fool proof method, but my friend sets her cash register so that it does not show the change due and makes her new employees learn how to count up.  Works like a charm, but takes time and energy on her part.

I think whole language learning killed reading.  Killed it dead.

thesheatons said...

Damned if I know. I was taught to start with the cost of the item and count my way up to the amount of money the customer paid. A $5.95 total paid with a ten would be a nickel and four ones. As in 5.95, six (the nickel) 7,8,9,10 (the ones) I can't think of a simpler way.

And I couldn't agree more on the grammer. What's scary is what hear coming from people who are being paid to sound like they know what they're talking about; newspeople and the like. It is very, very scary.

Jackie

rdautumnsage said...

((Hugs)) Thank you, thank you! If I'm in a rush I don't always pay attention to proper grammar (I know it's no excuse). In any event, I have a better grasp than the kids who are graduating these days. I laughed when I discovered my daughter was at the top of her class in high school....she couldn't spell, or write a complete sentence. Knowing this fact kind of took some "oomph" out of that accomplishment. How in the world do they intend for these kids to go on to college and pass a college level course?

The decimation is starting earlier than ever. Doc (my other half) works as a teacher's aid. He was alarmed when one of his students (he's in middle school) didn't have English or any form of it being taught on his itinerary. When he asked about it, the teacher in question told him he could be fired for inquiring something like that. Are the schools held to so many restrictions they can't possibly do their jobs? I truly believe the idea of no child being left behind is hindering the educational system. It's not an improvement to a failing system to pass a child when he can't even function under the basic expectations of early education. (Hugs) Indigo

mlraminiak said...

Indigo--

College?  They are teaching (or not...) the same crap there as well.  When I ran a business in Eugene (the home of the University of Oregon) I had college students working for me.  Many of these kids couldn't spell, either.  And they thought it was funny. "Oh, well...I just can't spell."  They were smart kids, they got their college degrees...but they NEVER learned how to spell.  The primary education they received did not give priority to things like spelling or grammar or any of the things that were drilled into us when we were kids.  

That was fifteen years ago.  And one of those hopeless non-spellers is now a school teacher herself.  I guess we don't have to wonder why things just keep going downhill....  

Lisa  :-]  

dsonney01 said...

Please...I just turned in a term paper on this subject- It is incredible what has happened in education over the last 70 (since WWII) years, not to mention before that time. Americans better wise up and act in the benefit of their children and the future of this country- I will not get on my soapbox but (hint) it has something to do with FEDERAL intervention and manipulation of the system....

sunflowerkat321 said...

Popular culture is (unfortunately) moving our kids farther and farther away from any proper use of grammar and the English language in general.  I particularly freak out when I get a note from an ADULT  that uses "4" instead of "for" or "U" instead of "you".  Proper use of grammar and spelling SAYS something about the person who takes the time to use it.  I wonder if that will be true once our grandkids are running things and doing the hiring.

I think this is another thing that we get to chalk up to "no child left behind".  I know my kids spend a large portion of academic time being taught for the standardized tests.  They are getting a diluted dose of everything.

And don't get me started on skimpy homework...

frankandmary said...

:::hiding:::  I was reading through my handwritten journal & found I'd written "piece of mind" a few different times ;-0.  I never use the ' on parents when I should.  I sometimes write do instead of due, & I often write my ex-bf's sister's name as Mauve instead of Maeve.  Are you guys going to block me from the journal now?
~Mary