If we can’t remember learning it, we probably need to relearn it

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Angelica’s blog entry on Eats, Shoots and Leaves made me, as another future English teacher really consider my role in teaching punctuation.  As I’ve mentioned before, exclamation marks can be a scary thing (at least to me, anyway).  How do you teach their use to kids?  You don’t want them to go crazy with them, nor do you want them to write them off completely.  It poses an interesting question. 

But besides just this question which the quote made me think of, what about the quote itself? “Most of us can’t remember a time before we learned to punctuate” (Truss 134).  I don’t know about you, but I certainly cannot remember learning what punctuation marks where for.  I’m sure I learned at some point, but their use is so engrained in our minds from such a young age that we cannot even remember what and when we learned about them.  Maybe it is because they are so drilled into us that we don’t stop to consider their use.  Punctuation marks are elementary; we think to ourselves: “we learned that back in grade school.”  But the problem is that we can’t remember what we learned, and thus don’t know how to use them.  I think this is part of why people have such difficulties with grammar.  And it is an important concept for us future teachers to remember—no matter how basic something may be, it can never hurt to review it with our students to be sure that they do know how to use a comma, a period, or anything else.     

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