Andrew Kern Oct 6, 2007
There are two common reasons for testing. First, the static fashion of determining roughly (and often rather arbitrarily) what students have learned and can repeat from the curriculum. Second, the dynamic fashion of assessing what has been learned so the teacher can adjust to the realities of the students’ experience. A third reason is, of course, to assess students for college admissions or their status as compared to other students, but this standardized mode of testing is so pedagogically problematic and even vulgar that I find it hard to mention it.
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Andrew Kern Oct 6, 2007
Here is a grammar teacher, let us call her Mrs. Malaprop. And here is a grammar student, let us call him Billy Blood. Mrs. Malaprop has been trained in the conventions of the contemporary University and has come to believe that correct grammar is determined entirely by the usage of the community and has no authority or necessity outside the community that determines the correctness. She leaves all the implied questions unasked, and out of deference to her I will do the same.
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Andrew Kern Oct 6, 2007
The great need that Dorothy Sayers and classical educators have always claimed to meet is teaching students how to think. I'm still amazed, however, at how little of what schools do with their students actually trains them to do so. So much time is spent getting through materials and learning what they are supposed to think that no time is left to learn sound habits of thinking.
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Andrew Kern Oct 5, 2007
In Genesis 1 God created the heavens and the earth (we aren't told how) and then He said, "Let there be light." When He did so, it seems safe to assume He used some language to say it. That is to say, He used language to bring reality into existence. In Genesis 3, Satan used language to persuade Eve to do evil. In so doing, he severed the link between language and reality. For the first time, nature and use were put in conflict.
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Andrew Kern Oct 5, 2007
The point of conflict between the traditional and the contemporary approach to grammar is the triumph of convention over nature. Current grammar theories seem to argue that grammar is strictly a matter of usage (convention). Since this is so, we need to examine why people use grammatical forms and of course, the only possible explanation is that they want power over others. Grammar is an elitist enterprise in which the establishment keeps outsiders outside.
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Andrew Kern Oct 4, 2007
There are three different kinds of article in English: The indefinite article, so named because the noun it modifies is indefinite (an apple, a fish); the definite article, modifying a definite noun (the apple - you know, that one on the table, the fish - that one over there in the aquarium); and the pretentious definite article.
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Andrew Kern Oct 2, 2007
This got me thinking.
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Andrew Kern Oct 2, 2007
Alan Warhaftig has found 474 run on sentences in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. Given that the book fills about 750 pages, we cannot help but be astonished by such editorial carelessness.  I'm guessing this news will find a mixed reaction. The sentimentalists will complain that Mr. Warhaftig is trying to ruin a good thing: that Rowling has children reading and is providing legitimate pleasure so Mr. Warhaftig (who probably got his name from Rowling anyway) should stop being so anal retentive and leave her alone.
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Andrew Kern Oct 1, 2007
"The relationship between a liberal education and freedom is good sound American doctrine. ... I regret that during the last several decades we have had a tendency to overlook this important American fact. And I think we are paying the penalty for our shortsightedness in unexpected ways." Thus Wendell Wilkie, in a 1943 speech at Duke University. What would he say today? I can't help but wonder. To read the entire January 25, 1943 Time article from which this quotation is drawn, click HERE.
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Andrew Kern Sep 29, 2007
The word has changed over time. Here's an article that sweeps the centuries for ideas about essay writing that will provoke responses in teachers of writing. A good read, and one worth discussing.
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