In Defence of Stephen Jay Gould

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Wed Dec 22 14:14:21 MST 1999

Stephen Jay Gould:
It's like saying, "We're going to continue to teach English, but you
don't have to teach grammar anymore."

Carroll Cox:
This disappoints me. "Grammar" is and always has been the biggest
shuck in the public school system. Believing that teaching grammar
is teaching English is almost as bad as creationism.

Jose G. Perez:
Amen! Hallelujah!

Actually, people should note that Gould did *not* say, nor is there any
evidence he believes, "teaching grammar is teaching English".  He said
something else: namely that you can't teach English without *including*
grammar, just as you can't teach biology without including evolution.  I
see nothing at all wrong in this.

As someone who has to mark student essays, I must say the quality of
grammar is often shocking and at a level where sentences are difficult to
understand.  There is nothing positive about bad grammar or the loss of

Philip Ferguson

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