Monday, September 28, 2009

The Beauty of Detail: Style, Grammar, & Essays

"In small proportions, we just beauties see; / And in short measures, life may perfect be."
--Ben Jonson, "To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of that Noble Pair"

This semester, I've tried to teach grammar on the days where students bring in their rough drafts. So far, those classes have gone well. They turn in their papers this week, and so I'll be able to measure their application of the principles.

In the past, I've tried to mark style and grammar errors on papers, believing that by revising, they will understand their errors. Only the exceptional students are able to learn this way. The rest just rewrite the sentences. Like a blindfolded dart thrower, they hope that their newest attempt will yield success, but they don't know until they see the results. I want them to know. Unlike satire, style and grammar are not "myster[ies] of the noble trade" that "no master can teach to his apprentice."

So hopefully, in class instruction coupled with out of class direction will make more effectual their capacity for understanding the labyrinth of English style and grammar.

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