English classes may not exactly teach english

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English classes may not exactly teach english

Photo by Gianna Schuster

Photo by Gianna Schuster

Photo by Gianna Schuster

Photo by Gianna Schuster

Matt DeGraff, Staff Writer

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“The umbrella is blue. ”  Sentences like this drive high school students crazy.

English teachers may tell their students that the umbrella is blue because the author wanted to show the character’s sadness.

But it is possible that the author simply wanted the character to have a blue umbrella.

If circumstances like this are true, then teachers are making students look for things that may not even be there. To further enforce this concept, students are instructed to write about these abstract ideas.

Having students look for these deeper meanings that may or may not be there does not teach English and writing skills.

However, it could be the translation of this analysis into writing that teaches the students how to write.

Sophomore Steven Palthe said, “Literary analysis is very effective because it allows the student to apply the vocabulary, writing technique, and grammar that they have previously learned in an essay format.”

Palthe also said, “The basics like grammar and vocabulary need to be taught before an essay, but they can still be partially taught through the application of analyzing literary analysis.  So many vital skills are taught in literary analysis that it should be used more frequently in classes than it already is.”

While literary analysis does appeal to some students, many find it boring and come to hate it through their English class.

Sophomore Jay Russell said, “I find literary analysis to be extremely boring and time consuming. It does not do very much to help develop writing skills. All it does is make us spend a lot of time looking for something that may or may not be there.  There are definitely ways to teach that do not involve wasting so much time on non-writing tasks.”

One method to make students do more writing is to have students write about current events or projects they have observed or done.

Sophomore Evan Lee said, “I think this is a good strategy because it shows our understanding and our ability to put that understanding into words.  It expresses more real things, it’s not like writing “this was like this because of this..” and on and on.”

Russell said, “Writing about current events and things that actually happened and are more clear cut would be much more enjoyable and would make me think about my writing more.”

These ways might interest many more students and make writing something they are more inclined to do.

Sophomore Jake Kumamoto said, “I am not the biggest fan of literary analysis, so it is not really something I can connect to, making it harder to write about.”

Kumamoto also said, “But, current events are affecting me right now, making it much easier for me to write about them. My interest in current events makes it more fun to write about these things.”

“While I believe that literary analysis is the best way to teach English, I also think there should be other methods used,” said Palthe. “Reading more will help give students an idea of how to structure certain types of writing, and socratic seminars will help students learn to turn their written ideas into spoken ones.”

Giving students an alternative to literary analysis in learning to write and improving their English skills could pay dividends.

Lee said, “Reports are probably more educational than literary analysis because instead of taking words and turning them into different words, you are observing something and formulating something in our own heads to put into print.  It is basically our minds to paper.”

“But, in the end,” Palthe said, “it is writing, regardless of the type, that really makes you a better writer.”

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