When teaching middle class students from fairly homogeneous educational backgrounds, itâ€™s easy to assume that by college age, they know how to write. Itâ€™s even easy to accept that grammar should be a peripheral topic in a college-level writing class, if it is to be included at all.
But this simply isnâ€™t true in a more socioeconomically diverse setting, where the educational background students receive canÂ be unreliable and where a command of written English can mean the difference between getting ahead and going to jail.
Thereâ€™s a stark contrast between the grammar and syntax Iâ€™ve taught to students who already wrote with a high degree of fluency and the grammar Iâ€™m teaching to students who have powerful voices yet need a command of prescriptive grammarÂ in order to be taken seriously or treated justly.
I feel the value of grammar keenly when I see a student struggle to express himself in writing. I feel it keenly when he learns and writes, and when he sees that others understand and respect what he has to say.