Weathers’ “Grammars of Style”

After reading Weathers’ piece, I find it a bit awkward to admit that I often tell my students I am teaching them “academic writing”, and that there are certain conventions that are appropriate to use within this traditional composition framework. There are things to be avoided: sentence fragments, comma splices, run-on sentences, informal ‘’you’’, ‘’unnecessary’’ repetition, the list goes on. Then there are things to be valued and implemented: formal/impersonal voice, varied (and ‘academic’) vocabulary, varied sentence structures and lengths (but always complete sentences), etc. But then, upon assigning readings that contain “unconventional” styles (the strategically placed fragment to add emphasis, the labyrinthine sentence used to evoke a feeling of breathlessness), I realize the contradictory information my students are receiving from me and from the assigned texts. Weathers really hits the nail on the head, so to speak (hmmm…a cliché: to be avoided or purposefully incorporated?) when he discusses the notion that all teachers have a favored “grammar of style”, and “anything that looms upon the horizon as a distinctly different possibility we generally attack as ‘bad writing’ or identify as ‘creative writing which we don’t teach in this class’ or ignore altogether, claiming it is a possibility that only rare persons…could do anything with and that ordinary mortals should scrupulously avoid”(135). This is so true, at least in my case. I recognize the existence of various grammars of style, but I am almost afraid to broach the subject with my classes. But by glossing over, or even ignoring, the possibilities that exist for Grammar B in the college composition classroom, am I depriving my students of an entire world of writing options that could be utilized in their “verbal response to reality”(147)? Why do I assume that trying to learn and understand alternative styles of grammar would just be too complicated for my students? These questions surely reveal some preconceived notions I have about my student population and its ability to conceptualize and integrate Grammar B options into their own written work.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Weathers’ “Grammars of Style”

  1. jlnance says:

    I see what you’re saying. Although I don’t think Grammar B is too complicated for students, I think that without those necessary Grammar A skills already perfected, they would struggle with creating this kind of text themselves. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think style is well worth teaching to students who have some basic writing skills down pat. Otherwise, there is an increased level of frustration and anxiety. It’s sort of like letting them drive without having them pass the road test first. Agreed?

  2. I like the analogy to the road test:) I think it really does make sense to teach variations in style after students are comfortable with some more basic writing concepts. Thanks for your input!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s