Is Grammar Out of Style?

I have a Master’s degree in writing and a Bachelor’s degree in English. I’ve written more than two dozen books, and I’ve edited others. I’ve been a newspaper and magazine editor. Grammar and spelling are important to me. Are they no longer important to our society as a whole?

I saw an online post recently in which a high-school English teacher corrected a student’s grammar in class. He complained about it to her, in a disrespectful manner. It seemed clear to me that the teacher was just doing her job, and the student was out of line. But most of the readers who commented sided with the student, saying it was rude for the teacher to correct him at all!

Yes, in many cases it is inappropriate to correct someone’s grammar in a casual conversation in a social setting. But this was in school, where it was the teacher’s job to teach the student how to write correctly.

I’ve read on various occasions lately that pointing out spelling and grammatical errors is elitist, that expecting others to conform to such rules discriminates against those who went to poor schools, and that it is cruel to value correct usage over an individual’s right to self-expression. When did this become acceptable? Does good writing not matter anymore? When did appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation go out of style?

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