blog postsTeaching commas won't helpMay 14, 2011 3:00 pm9835 views A new rant in Salon by Kim Brooks complains, “My college students don't understand commas, far less how to write an essay,” and asks the perennial question, “Is it time to rethink how we teach?” While it’s always time to rethink how we teach, teaching commas won’t help. Teachers like Brooks commonly elevate the lowly comma to a position of singular importance. But documents in which a misplaced comma can mean life or death, or at least the difference between a straightforward contract and a legal nightmare of Bleak House proportions, are myths, just like the myth that says Eskimo has twenty-three words for snow (twenty-eight? forty-five?). More to the point: understanding commas does not guarantee competent writing.