Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do parts of speech matter?

My Mukor and I were talking about our antiquated public school system which led to other subjects, and he made a point that I didn't have a good answer for.

My Mukor: "Why do they teach parts of speech in grade school?"
Me: "Uh... What do you mean?"
My Mukor: "Nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs - why is this knowledge important to grade school children? These are details that Linguistic and English Literature majors may want to delve into, but I don't see the necessity of teaching this otherwise."
Me: "...I dunno. Perhaps it is a helpful tool for teachers when getting children to understand how to write. Maybe it helps to break it into smaller parts."
My Mukor: "But children know how to talk from example. Knowing that they are using NOUNS and VERBS has no intrisic value to this process. And, when a child writes, they write like they talk. I really don't see the point."
Me: "..."

I got nothin'! I have no good reason why we are taught the parts of speech. Of course, this conversation started because I asked what part of speech "afternoon" was. I asked if it was an adverb or a noun? He didn't know, and so began the discussion of why this was important to fill his brain up with.

Frankly, I think he was just coming up with a reason to excuse his lack of basic knowledge after getting a 800 on the English portion of the SAT.


All Things BD said...

Here's my theory: you need to know the parts of speech so that you at least know whether you've written a complete sentence. And so you can play Mad Libs.

Also, afternoon is a noun.

Also also, he was totally trying to get out of it.

gingela5 said...

It helps when forming a sentence. You know it's important not to use a noun where a verb's supposed to go. And also it's really good to know for MadLibs...otherwise you're just lost.

Michele said...

Teaching children parts of speech does help them write, and it also helps when they learn foreign languages. If you have never been taught parts of speech, and try and learn a foreign language, you would be at a serious disadvantage. When children first start to write, they write like they talk, and as my first grade granddaughter told her mother, she uses "kid writing." That is what my granddaughter's teacher calls writing when it is done phonetically by the kids. Eventually children don't write like they talk. In a more formal situation when you write, and that is one form of writing you do teach, you end up referring to how to write, and, how to talk, when you are not with the buds. Only my opinion, but it is formed from when I taught school, for 10 years. Ask your son's teacher. I'm sure she has reasons, different than mine! But in kindergarten, I'm not sure it comes up...

DJ said...

Yeah, they teach all sorts of stuff in school that you're just like, Why?? (esp those math proofs in high school)
But, as other people said, knowing parts of speech is absolutely necessary for madlibs. :)