Friday, May 13, 2011

“Death to high school English”

As a high-school student, Kim Brooks loved English class. Now she has second thoughts:

Only now, a decade and a half later, after seven years of teaching college composition, have I started to consider the possibility that talking about classics might be a profound waste of time for the average high school student, the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters or inspired by the literary arts. I’ve begun to wonder if this typical high school English class, dividing its curriculum between standardized test preparation and the reading of canonical texts, might occupy a central place in the creation of a generation of college students who, simply put, cannot write.
Brooks’s “Death to high school English” would make a provocative first piece of reading for anyone teaching college writing in the fall.

My quick memories of high-school English: The Bald Soprano, Dandelion Wine, diagramming sentences, The Glass Bead Game, grammar, The Martian Chronicles, grammar, The Metamorphosis, diagramming sentences, Oedipus Rex, grammar, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, grammar. In other words, lit and grammar. What did you do in English class?

Thanks to Daughter Number Three for pointing me to Brooks’s essay.

[I prefer the hyphen in “high-school English.” Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage on hyphens in phrasal adjectives: “Reputable newspaper publishers are as conscientious about this point as reputable book publishers.” Reputable bloggers too. Reposted after the Blogger outage of May 2011.]

comments: 0