Friday, September 14, 2012

The Long-Term Benefits of High School English

At our daughter's Open House, the English teacher presented us parents with an Assignment: What was your favorite poem, short story, book from high shcool English?  Describe how English helped you in real life.

(Can you imagine a similar assignment from an algebra teacher -- how much bullshit that would have generated?)

We were limited to only ten minutes, and I had to listen to the teacher's open house spiel while thinking and writing, and I had to wait for a pencil to become available.  At first I couldn't even remember anything that I read in High School -- I'm such an avid reader on my own I wasn't sure if anything noteworthy was assigned by a teacher.

So I wrote simply that I built a large vocabulary, and that I learned the difference between "affect" and "effect" and "lay" and "lie."

Then I remembered having to present William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow," so I mentioned that.  And then I remembered more.  I remembered reading Grendel, which was wonderful.  So I mentioned that.  I also wrote that my 12th grade English teacher was an actual  comedian who would perform at comedy clubs in the evenings.

Ultimately, I had trouble ascribing any benefits to the English I studied in High School.  I feel that it was my natural inclinations toward writing and reading that built my vocabulary and established my (above average among engineers) facility with writing.

Did the subject of High School English benefit you at all?  Did any subject?  How?


Jacqueline Hough said...

It did! My high school English teacher during my junior year helped me to realize that writing could be a career. A few years later, I was on my way to becoming a journalist. Thank you, Mrs. Garver!

Square Peg Guy said...

That's wonderful! Thank you for sharing!