Question: Does grammar, either traditional or transformational, help improve children’s writing?
Answer: “A study of the direct effects of traditional and transformational English grammar on children’s writing skills which found that the effects are negligible.” WB Elley, et al. 1976. P. 280.
Comment: First, let’s get straight the purpose of a knowledge of grammar as applied to writing: it is to polish writing so that the reader begins at the beginning and reads uninterrupted, in unbroken fashion, without distraction by grammatical mistakes, from beginning to end. The purpose of grammar is to study the sentence, to create sentences that read smoothly. The purpose of composition is to create whole pieces of writing, with the emphasis on paragraphs, transitions and the expression of ideas that can be summarized and clearly remembered. The sentence and the composition—two different analyses with one purpose—a smoothly written composition uninterrupted by distractions, but not by ideas.
I have read this study in its entirety. If the care had been taken with the traditional presentation of grammar as it was with the experimental study of transformational grammar, the results might have been considerably different. RayS.
Title: “Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English, January 1, 1976 to June 30, 1976.” Daniel J. Dieterich. Research in the Teaching of English (Winter 1976), 278-293.