Full Stop. Comma, new Paragraph – all you need to write anything.

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.


4 thoughts on “Full Stop. Comma, new Paragraph – all you need to write anything.

  1. John Keighley

    Shoo, I totally agree with you. Apart from the political correctness (which does three things to kids – patronises them, dumbs things down and restricts them from doing just about anything), education is failing students to the point where they can’t perform simple maths operations or spell to save their lives. One of the consequences of this is that they employment prospects are seriously degraded. A huge reason why I am on the way out of education – we simply can no longer teach outside of a set of prescribed, bureaucratically inspired parameters. Current curriculum policy is abysmal and getting worse and teachers are expected to take on many of the responsibilities which should part of good parenting.

  2. Kathryn White

    Quite! And I’m inclined not to start my sentences with (and) having had that drummed into me at school, which is a pity as (and) can often turn a flat sentence into something full of expression. Repetition was banned too; just as well my teachers weren’t the editors of Funnybones. In a dark, dark town, there was a dark, dark street. Too much analysis kills creativity.

  3. Shoo Rayner Post author

    Hi John, So sorry to hear you are thinking of leaving education. I think political interference and the workload has brought many to the edge, though I am starting to hear admissions of failure and that things need to change – maybe not to go back too the bad old days, but to give schools a bit more freedom in their style of teaching – I hope so.

  4. Shoo Rayner Post author

    I visited schools in Orkney once and was stopped in the street bfs a child who asked, out of the blue, what she could use instead of “and” as a connecting word. I suggested a full stop. She thought about it for a moment, then her face light up as she realised how simple the solution was! I love repetition particularly in stories for younger children. I love it when they start to join in when i read the stories and they get what’s going on and become more a part of the story.

    I think the term is Analysis paralysis! All the best

So, what do you think? I'd love to hear from you. Why not leave a reply?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.