Saturday, October 19, 2013

'shirley, I' do Not, understand Thee"!

Hello Blog!

What kind of whacky grammar rules was I taught? Well, the grammar rules that I learned were not so whacky as they were confusing and degrading. I learned grammar through the “Shirley Method.” I do not know how many people have heard of this method before, but it was torture. I did not understand a word of it and I do not think that it helped very much in teaching me how to write effectively.

                For instance, I never learned the correct place to put a comma. I just thought that it came after a natural breath in a sentence. I know that the “Shirley Method” teaches comma rules, but I just never learned them because no one ever taught me. When I went to middle school, I transferred schools so that I was in a different town that used a different curriculum. Every student there had been learning the stupid “Shirley Method” ever since they were three years old (that may be a slight exaggeration, but it felt this way to me), so by the time I started going to school there, no one ever explained the rules to me. They just started chanting off “Subject, verb, direct object, indirect object, complete thought. Is this a sentence? Yes. Rule Four. Blah, blah, blah….” I had no idea what in the world they were talking about. Sure, I knew what a subject was. Yes, I have had some practice with verbs. Hey, I even know what adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions are, but I did not understand the chanting business.

                They also labeled everything. Possessive Pronoun Adjective was labeled “PPA.” Say what? I did not understand and no one explained it to me. I had to guess on everything. When one does not understand the material and is guessing from what they think they understand, all kinds of crazy grammar rules come to surface. When do you use an exclamation point? You use it whenever you want to strongly express something. That meant that I used exclamation points profusely. In reality, exclamation points should almost never be used in academic writing and sparingly in creative writing. Let’s be honest, most things in a paper are not truly worthy of the explicit signature of an exclamation point. What about writing an organized paper? It must be a five paragraph essay, of course. Wrong answer. Your thesis must list your three points exactly. Wrong answer. Your thesis must be one sentence and must be the last sentence of your introduction. Wrong again. None of these things are true. Sometimes they work, but they all recall a set in stone way of writing an essay. The truth is that an essay calls for a paper that can have as many paragraphs and points as one needs to as long as the theme of the paper is thoroughly explained. Theses should be at the beginning somewhere and should be fairly short, but there is no rule that says it must be in a specific place on the paper and contain one’s points exactly word for word. As long as a thesis statement tells the reader what one’s paper is about, that is enough.

                Whacky and confusing grammar rules were an extensive part of my training. Perhaps it was a good thing that I did not know the “Shirley Method” as well as everyone else. This lack of knowledge may have helped me in the long run so that I am now more flexible and loose in writing my essays. All I know is that sometimes what is taught in schools is not always what is correct. Sometimes it is just whacky.


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