I visited St Paul’s CofE Primary School in Gloucester last week and some of the children still had questions to ask when our time was up. I asked their teacher Mrs Bevan, to send me an email with the questions I hadn’t answered, and promised to make a video for her and her class 5.
Having made the video, I though I might share it on my website too!
Sometimes, when I hear of the complicated grammar that primary children have to learn, I want to cry. The grammar that the curriculum requires them to learn is not to help them read or write, but to help academic examiners tick boxes.
Reading and marking a piece of writing is a difficult and subjective process. It requires effort. Ticking required items of grammar and keywords is much easier. But that doesn’t produce readers or writers. With all the effort that has been put into Literacy in the last 20 years, how come we still have a problem with struggling writers and reluctant readers?
In the world of music, three chords are all it takes to write multi-million selling songs that colour and punctuate our lives. Do we then still need complicated classical or jazz music to show off the rarified aspects of musical composition? Yes, we need it all. But we accept that some people write simple music and others write complicated music. We accept that complicated composition is a subject for experts – not beginners.
Most people listen to, understand and receive all the solace, fun, and entertainment they require from just three chords.
When great classical music reaches the soul, it is usually through simple moods and catchy melody lines – not because of the use of esoteric composition techniques. Once hooked, a few become aficionados and learn to understand the hidden complexities.
To write, all the grammar you need, is a full stop, a comma and a new paragraph – clear handwriting helps too.
To know what to write, one needs experience so you have something to write about. To know how to write, one needs to see how it is done and that means reading. Not reading to analyse grammar, but reading to seek knowledge, understanding and even for simple fun and entertainment. Reading lets you see how others do it.
As you read, you see how other writers glue the words together and, by a process of osmosis, learn to do the same.
If you don’t read, you will never see how the trick is done. If you spend all your time learning grammar, you will have all the tools but have no raw materials to work with.
Full Stop. Comma, new paragraph. The three chord trick of writing is all you need to write anything. If you want to progress and add a bit of sophistication to colour your voice, try an exclamation mark! Most everything else can be inferred.