More from Robert Harrell:
If you follow the history of the teaching of languages, a number of practices become logical – even if misguided.
Up until the early modern period, Latin and Greek were taught as means of communication. When those languages were superseded by French (and later English) as the medium of international communication, universities and schools had to create a rationale for continuing to teach them. Thus arose both the idea that learning a (classical) language “exercises the mind” and the grammar syllabus.
When modern languages were introduced into the curriculum, they needed a similar “academic, serious” justification. Thus, the teaching of grammar became an end in itself. The “problem” has always been that most people do not take a language course for the purpose of learning grammar but for the purpose of communication. This has been one of the great academic bait-and-switch scams of all time.