On several occasions, I’ve bemoaned the futility of trying to teach writing to kids who have made it through twelve years of school without absorbing even the basics of grammar. I distinctly remember getting this stuff in the public schools myself — third through eighth grades were essentially devoted to grammar, spelling, punctuation and such — we didn’t start close readings of literature until my freshman year of high school, and I was on the AP track. On the other hand, the Spawn seems to have had much less practice with that sort of stuff in Mondoville. (Fortunately, she’s smart enough and reads extensively enough on her own to pick it up through osmosis, but I wonder about her classmates, some of whom I’ll likely end up teaching.)
A pointed discussion of this state of affairs (and some pretty good guesses at what caused it) can be found at Salon, where Kim Brooks wonders what’s actually going on in high school classrooms (although not without a totally gratuitous swipe at church youth groups — way to deploy pathos, Kim!). It’s worth a read.