Thursday, November 11, 2004

English: An Art, or a Torture Device?

I hate English class. Call me crazy but when I endeavour to learn about an art, and further my ability to produce works using that medium, I like to be able to have a little bit of choice. I don't mean whether or not I'm going to do a certain assignment; I mean how, when and the topic. Even just having one of those options would be nice.

You're given the task of persuading the rest of the students that school uniforms will affect them in more positive ways than negative. The teacher expects an essay. Is that really the best way though? Students tend to have rather short attention spans, most of them anyway. They're not going to want to read your 3000 word essay that gives them the same facts that they've been given each and every other time school uniforms came up. Perhaps something shorter, and wittier would be more effective. Teacher may (read: will) disagree.

The deadlines for your assignments are all laid out for you, with little to no discussion. The only chance of a flexible date is you're away, or some big event is coming up. It doesn't happen too often. Who's to say I'm in the mood to write a poem at the moment? What if I have something I want to try to persuade people about right now? What if what I want to do is going to take more time than I'm given? What if you have a whole lot of homework in other courses? I realize that if there were no deadlines, everything would be handed in at the end of the year, so there must some sort of rule imposed. (Besides, there's no rebellion without rules.) It would be nice if the teachers could set a date to have however many assignments done by. They could be any kind of assignment from a list. This would also keep the teacher from having to mark the same thing over and over, relieving boredom.

Novel studies are a particular chore for me. Most of the time, the teacher has chosen a very boring book to look at. The last one I had to do was on Emma, a book about a 19th century ditz. It was rather painful. Had I the choice, I would have probably chosen something more interesting. I'm sure everyone would have. I would have enjoyed both the book, and the assignment, and taken a lot more from it. All I learned from Emma was a hatred of Jane Austen.

Art is all about creativity. The schools have decided that English is an art. Fine. But how can I be creative when I have so many rules? What is ironic is that they teach the art aspects, poetry, reading, etc. as a science, and the science aspects, like spelling and grammar, as an art. Nobody knows how to spell anymore! The comma is all but extinct, let alone capitalization. It pains me to read some people's work.

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