The Real Reason Schools Don't Teach Grammar Anymore

by Rachel Esco February 10, 2018


Are we facing the grammar apocalypse? It seems somewhere, down the line, schools virtually stopped teaching grammar to our kids. There was no warning, no announcement, nobody asked us if we agreed; it just somehow faded away into the educational abyss, along with other lost enigmas like cursive, detention and Bill Nye The Science Guy (whatever happened to him?).  So folks, if you've ever wondered why schools don't teach grammar anymore, read closely.

 dont teach grammar

The changing priorities of the 2000's

Grammar is so 90's-- or at least that's our school board's mindset-- more or less.

This is not to imply that grammar is no longer relevant because it is, but rather, it's just not prioritized in the same way anymore. 

Literacy is evolving

In our current age, we're now more concerned with how students interpret and judge information. We want them to become critical thinkers, meaning they should be capable of making independent judgements about what they read.

Having this skill enables them to be free-minded, empowering them to develop their own opinions, ones that are impressive and unique.

This skill is vital to their futures as valuable contributors to society. After all, innovative thought is what makes the world move forward, yes?

Critical literacy matters more

The school board is pushing in this direction of critical literacy, whereby students may grow to become deep, independent thinkers.

And so, in the grand scheme of things, putting students through that robotic grind of repetitive grammar exercises is just archaic. It's uncreative and overly conventional.

Yes, grammar will always matter-- nobody can argue that. It encompasses the fundamentals of our English language and all that jazz, but still, critical literacy matters more. Think about it: just because a kid is excellent with verb tenses doesn't mean he can form an opinion. Which skill matters more in retrospect?

So you see, the greater emphasis of education is on critical literacy, the ability to analyze and derive a creative thought instead of merely being good at grammar.  Ultimately, it's just not as important as critical literacy.


The tech age

We're in the age of technology, folks. Whether you like it or not, and with the risk of freaking you all out, grammar is becoming obsolete.

Almost everything is now done online.  Many schools are going completely paperless, using iPads and Moodle classrooms as teaching tools, and in some schools, kids don't even carry pencils-- ya, seriously!

As learning becomes increasingly supported through digital media, grammar is getting outmoded. Language is now a matter of computerized or verbal communication and less of a written art.


Elementary negligence

Ever heard the expression, "passing the buck?". It's the act of attributing responsibility to another source.

When it comes to grammar instruction, this often happens at the elementary school level. It's the idea that another teacher will eventually do it.  Or alternatively, there's the assumption that a previous teacher has already done it, relinquishing the current teacher from their responsibility to teach grammar in as much detail.

However, the truth is that nobody really knows which teacher is doing the grammar lessons.

Ultimately, grammar should be reinforced in each grade, through all the early years of elementary school. Otherwise, there may be gaps left in the student's grammar proficiency.


Nobody's hooked on phonics

Remember all those rigorous grammar activities we all dreaded as kids?

Our teachers were all phonetic junkies-- let's face it.  And like the crazed grammar dictators they were, these teachers left us practically drowning in pages and pages of endless drills, forcing us to become experts in spelling, sounds and rules.

Yet now, learning phonics is much different. It can amusingly be compared to how a baby learns to walk: you just, sort of, figure it out along the way.

So eventually, knowing skills such as conjugating verbs or doubling consonants is either a guessing game or something that's naturally picked up on through reading and everyday conversation. And how does this effect parents? Some just cross their fingers and pray their child magically develops these skills, while others frantically run to Chapters to collect grammar practice books.


Overall, we can all agree, there's both pros and cons to the changes in our education system. If you're genuinely concerned about your child's grammar level, you can always hire a private tutor or arrange a meeting with their teacher.


Rachel Esco
Rachel Esco


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