Grammar FAIL, Part Three

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Since I’ve been on the subject of grammar, I wanted to end with some thoughts on handbooks.  In doing so I am explicitly staking my claim to the article I’d like to write though I never will, the one that exists in that utopic space where I am not spending all my time running a writing program, where I have the luxury of research.  When I do write it, it will be called “Whither Handbooks?” so you can’t have that title.  When you decide that I’ve waited too long and decide to write this article yourself you will at least need to cite this blog post (Ha!). This is my last post of the season and as any publisher rep will tell you I have a large soapbox when it comes to handbooks, so I will restrict my comments here to one simple observation: handbooks don’t work.  The evidence?  “Students can’t write” (they say). I won’t blame publishers.  They strive constantly to build the better handbook.  But the genre itself is so bloated and increasingly so foreign that I think we need something else.  Each time a rep walks through my door, I look for that something else.  I haven’t found it yet. (Maybe I will write it, off in that utopic space where I am not spending all my time running a writing program). But to continue a subtheme of this series of posts, perhaps the problem isn’t with students or with secondary education or with a texting generation or with No Child Left Behind or with apathetic students.  Maybe the problem is with me.  It may be (probably is) that my own bias seeps into my pedagogy.  If I fail to help my students succeed with grammar skills, it may have less to do with them or with the tools and more to do with my attitudes and approaches. I’m teachable.  Tell me… what works?
About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.