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To think spelling and grammar can't be ignored

(170 Posts)
busyhouseof8 Mon 17-Oct-11 18:25:09

DS2 is in Yr6. He came home from school with homework for a 30 minute piece of writing to describe a friend.

I gave the usual talk about being careful with your spelling and punctuation only for him to say, "it's OK, Mrs P says she doesn't mind about any of that so long as she can work out what we're trying to say".

AIBU to think that actually learning spelling and punctuation is reasonably important? DH is currently sifting through graduates to employ, many of whom have excellent degrees but can't seem to spell for toffee or string a literate sentence together. His firm runs remedial English classes just so they can write a letter to a client that makes sense and will be paid for!

Parents' evening this week - should I question her methods?

Apologies for all spelling and grammar errors in this post..............

ScaredBear Mon 17-Oct-11 18:27:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

usualsuspect Mon 17-Oct-11 18:28:46

Seems odd to me ,mine were all taught correct grammar and punctuation at school.

They had a literacy hour every day.

cardibachFalchoFodynGymraes Mon 17-Oct-11 18:37:18

SHe probably meant she would prefer him to write fluently rather than being limited and constrained by fears about spelling etc. Unless he writes something she has nothing to work on in terms of improving his ability!

Dawndonna Mon 17-Oct-11 18:39:49

How can anyone write fluently without being given the tools to do so.
Yanbu.

seaweedhead Mon 17-Oct-11 18:40:50

YANBU. Correct spelling and grammar make it clear exactly what your meaning is. It makes me very sad that it is being lost.

Maryz Mon 17-Oct-11 18:46:10

It gave me a huge shock when mine got into secondary and their English teachers (all of them, and they have had a fair few between them) said this to me.

I thought their standard of work dropped horribly, but it was explained to me that the theory was that they were starting to write their own way, and their own style and that it was important to have a bit of leeway so they spent more time on thinking and imagining and writing than on spelling and grammar. The same applied to essays in other subjects (history, religion, that type of thing).

They said that as they became more confident with their style of writing, and found it easier to write opinions and arguments and debates, the spelling and grammar that had been drummed into them in primary would return.

I thought it was a load of bollox. But it has proved to be true confused.

EllaDee Mon 17-Oct-11 18:49:25

YABU a bit. I assume he gets more than one piece of homework per term? Maybe this is an exercise to help them write without worrying - some people can find they lose their thread if they concentrate too much on spelling and grammar. After all, being able to think coherently is pretty important too!

FWIW, my spelling is pretty awful, and fortunately with what I do now, no-one could give the sllightest toss whether my writing is properly spelt, as they know I will be able to check it as I redraft. Many jobs are like this. It is much better IMO to learn how to use tools to help your memory of spelling and grammar rules, than to concentrate so hard on memorizing those rules that you struggle to learn proper communication skills.

EllaDee Mon 17-Oct-11 18:50:51

(Btw, loving the number of errors in the 'correct spelling and grammar is vital' brigade, as usual! wink Check your punctuation!)

JamieComeHome Mon 17-Oct-11 18:52:14

I would possibly not take at face value his assessment of what the teacher is looking for (I have a son in year 6).

It could be what cardibach says - that for certain pieces of work the focus is on content and fluency, but I'd be very surprised if grammar, spelling and punctuation aren't being taught. In fact, it strikes me how much more grammar and punctuation is taught in my son's school, compared to when I was at Primary (the 1970s)

ChippingInToThePumpkinLantern Mon 17-Oct-11 18:52:15

Most schools seem to do it like this. They write the the story in a very free flow way, not worrying, just getting the ideas down - then they write it out nicely proofing it as they go. It's not a bad thing. It allows them to be creative without stopping to remember/learn how to spell a word. Then when they are proofing it they can take their time and learn that side of it as they go.

JamieComeHome Mon 17-Oct-11 18:54:22

I am a real grammar and spelling fiend, but I have seen at first hand how some children get so hung up on spelling (I'm talking children who are struggling with Literacy) that it constrains and inhibits them.

Minus273 Mon 17-Oct-11 18:56:31

I had teachers like this. I now have the best grammar out of all my former primary class mates. That is really saying something as my grammar isn't great.

squeakytoy Mon 17-Oct-11 19:03:41

Most kids have access to a computer, and a dictionary. Poor spelling is never something that should just be overlooked because the teacher cant be arsed.

ChippingInToThePumpkinLantern Mon 17-Oct-11 19:29:37

Squeaky - it's not being overlooked. It is being looked at very very carefully once the initial ideas are down on paper. She's not saying it doesn't matter - she's saying it's not the most important thing on the first draft - big difference.

Scholes34 Mon 17-Oct-11 19:35:13

Children need to be relatively competent in spelling and grammar by the time they leave primary school, as it gets less attention in secondary school. I work with academically gifted graduates and undergraduates and it's cringe-worthy sometimes to see errors they make in their written English.

EllaDee Mon 17-Oct-11 19:46:19

Why does it matter so much though, scholes? You cringe ... is that really what matters? If you'd said you couldn't understand them, I can see that's a problem - but you didn't. And nor is that the issue in the OP. So presumably it is really just snobbery that's become entrenched, that is the issue here.

Fixture Mon 17-Oct-11 19:56:29

YANBU.

What does the national curriculum set out for this level?

Proudnscary Mon 17-Oct-11 20:00:17

YANBU - maybe in year 2 the teacher can let it go a little, but not year 6!
Grammar and spelling both matter very much.

Scholes34 Wed 19-Oct-11 09:58:22

Elladee - grammatical errors and spelling mistakes at the stage I'm talking about can give the impression of a lack of attention to detail, sloppiness and the like, which may extend beyond the written word. That's why it's important to build up good skills over time and schools should help children to be on top of this. Get the grammar and spelling right and you can then worry in more detail about semantics. Would you want your DCs' UCAS forms to be dotted with errors? There's nothing snobby about it, it's just the recognition of the importance of good, clear communication.

EllaDee Wed 19-Oct-11 10:14:51

Hmm, I don't agree. I don't look at a spelling mistake and think 'that person is careless' automatically, not unless I have something more substantial and important on which to base that assumption. If I can't understand a piece of writing, yes, I do worry. Otherwise, no, not really.

You can usually tell whether or not someone is careless by actual content, which IMO is more important. I'm not saying I don't mark errors as errors - I do, I just don't make judgments on a person based on those errors. That's the same courtesy that's been extended to me and I'm grateful for it.

Nowtspecial Wed 19-Oct-11 10:17:37

Every time I get a school newsletter it contains at least one spelling mistake, I find it lazy, I understand the office is busy but honestly I don't think it's that hard to check a couple of sides of A4. Some are absolute corkers.

overthemill Wed 19-Oct-11 10:23:33

as an English teacher I mark for spelling and punctuation each and every time. In fact, I have a stamp for homework marking! Kids are expected to check sp and p for each and every piece of work and I also spend hours on punctuation and grammar in class.

limitedperiodonly Wed 19-Oct-11 10:26:07

Spelling, grammar and punctuation are very important, but as elladee says, it depends on what this particular exercise is for.

And like her, I notice that the people getting most exercised about correct use are the ones making loads of mistakes.

ByTheWay1 Wed 19-Oct-11 10:33:18

However important I believe grammar and spelling to be, the overriding importance in descriptive writing is factual content. Perhaps the teacher wants to see how well the children can describe someone else, not how well they use their semicolons.

Do I need to end the previous sentence with a question mark, am I stating a belief or asking a rhetorical question?

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