(New stuff, as it arrives…)

Grammar: What’s that all about?


My title is ‘Grammar? What’s that all about?’, but I might better have called it ‘Rools: Ar Thay Enny Uce?” I hope you can begin to see a shape forming.  My aim is simple: it is to sow doubt. In the first instance, I seek to sow doubt about the teaching of formal grammar as a way to learn a language.  More fundamentally, though, I seek to sow doubt about the teaching of linguistic rules of any kind, including spelling rules, as a way to absorb or improve language skills.  More fundamentally still, I seek to sow doubt on the apparently self-evident notion that our minds’ behaviours are rule-based – that we learn, then follow, rules. 

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Conscious and unconscious minds: Implications for teaching and learning literacy.

This will be recognised as profoundly important one day. The abstract follows: click here for the article itself, and a glimpse of the future.


This study considers the roles of our conscious and our unconscious minds in education. It suggests this is fundamental to teaching and to learning. Basic assumptions are clarified, and the characteristics of consciousness and unconsciousness explored. Surprising and counter-intuitive conclusions are reached.

The differences between our conscious and unconscious minds are discussed, and their respective roles in learning debated in the light of these. A distinction is made between learning detail and understanding meaning and it is suggested that one may naturally be an unconscious task, the other a conscious one.

The educational implications are considered, using the teaching of homophone spellings as illustration.

Finally, using grammar as exemplar, the case is made for better formal recognition of the power of the unconscious mind and its proper place in educational theorising and praxis. This would radically inform theory, but would also validate the intuitive, but important, wisdoms of experienced teachers.