Monday, 28 March 2016

'Grammar' in the primary school in the 1950s

You can see what kind of 'grammar' questions we had in the 11plus exams in the 1950s here. It was limited, as I have said, mostly to using the simplest terms - noun, verb, adjective, adverb - and, I can see I have left out - the simplest stuff on tense. The questions mostly involved 'filling in the gap' type, so at least you had the tiny context of that sentence to get it right. I'm not saying that this was ideal either, but it was fairly limited in terms of the amount of time we spent doing it and how much emphasis there was on doing it. 
Even so, this was part of the means by which the 1950s system failed at least two-thirds of all children. 
It is quite unfair of Nick Gibb to claim that this is what's being 'brought back'. A much more complex raft of terms and processes are in SPaG and it's one of the main means by which schools and teachers are being judged. In other words, there is much more emphasis being placed on it. 
(examples of terms being required now, not required then for 11 year olds: determiners, subordinate conjunctions, subjunctive, 'progressive' tenses, expanded noun phrases, fronted adverbials -  some of which 6 year olds are supposed to 'learn'. 
And there was no nationwide test for 7 year olds.)
Their very name still deeply divides opinion. For some, the Eleven-Plus exams, which determined whether a…