Anyone who has read this blog over a long period of time knows my struggles with grammar. I once had a lady want to link to my blog but she sent me a list of grammar mistakes to fix before she could do that. Things aren't quite as dreadful as all that these days; I have made a concentrated study of grammar since I turned 40 which means I have been paying attention to grammar for 10 years now.
Unfortunately, while this has helped my personal growth and blogging tremendously, I can now no longer retain much that I am learning and even things I never had trouble with before such as effect/affect, seem to fly from my memory. The only way I can remember Lay/Lie is to use Grammar Girl's tip that Lay, Lady, Lay is wrong as is Lay Down Sally.
These troubles often lead me to ponder on the meaning of writing. Is writing the technically correct transference of information or is it something more? I know there are people who would say if you can't write correctly you shouldn't be writing at all and yet many people who are editors by nature are not provocative writers. For this reason, over the years, I have tried to welcome corrections. Often I will go back and read an old blog post to see myriads of mistakes that I missed. Mostly these are not mistakes made because of lack of grammar knowledge, but rather typos and that weird thing that happens where you see what you think you wrote rather than what you actually wrote.
This year because I am blogging for Circe and learned rather quickly that I was unable to edit a post once it was up, I have decided to up my game a little bit. I have been reading books on the craft of writing by writers and I have decided to use a grammar checker.
Not only will this help me immediately, I am hoping it will help me as I teach the children, even the ones in college. It is all a part of my ongoing effort to wrestle this grammar monster and win.
Recently I have listened in on two conversations asking the question is writing a skill or an art. As teachers this is an important question because it affects how we teach. As with so many things, I believe the number one way to teach writing is through reading good books. Grammar is not the art of writing but we are handicapped as artists if we do not understand how our language functions. Sometimes we do this innately or in my case inanely and sometimes we do it consciously.
Have you ever noticed that a great coach does not have to be a great player? Some coaches were once great ball players but often a good coach is someone who understands the grammar of the sport. A coach doesn't have to hit a homerun to know if a player needs work on his swing. Editors and grammar checkers are the coaches that teach us to how to get the most out of our swing. Once we see the ball and swing level, the fence is ours if we have the talent.
"St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it.11 Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.12 When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science.13 Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful."
CS Lewis The Abolition of Man
CS Lewis The Abolition of Man