High school English offers lessons in life

  • Article by: Elaine Bransford
  • Updated: September 2, 2013 - 5:45 PM

What every graduate can gain from their high school English classes.

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pumiceSep. 2, 13 5:55 PM

The person who doesn't read is no better off than the person who can't read.

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endothermSep. 2, 13 6:30 PM

As somebody who works with recent HS grads, I am regularly shocked by their lack of basic skills when it comes to reading comprehension and writing. They can't write a coherent paragraph or explain an argument. They have never heard of a bibliography and the idea of actually going out and finding a book in the library (or online) is totally foreign to them. I don't blame the high school teachers for this -- I think they are working just as hard if not harder as when I was in school decades ago -- but clearly something is keeping our kids from developing these skills. Perhaps there is too much teaching to the test and not enough reading and problem solving.

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lordhawhaw1Sep. 2, 1310:01 PM

Great opinion piece; she nailed it!

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gandalf48Sep. 3, 1311:08 AM

I find the key points of learning quite valid and appropriate but I'm thinking back to my own high school experience and I can't think of any activity in English class that pushed me to learn critical thinking or any of the points mentioned. Sure, we read books and then regurgitated facts from the book back in a test. In high school the students are taught to fall in line, follow the leader and not to make waves. I'm sure that much of the teaching as been diverted towards teaching to the test...that might be some of it but even before NCLB was in place the school system rarely taught critical thinking or for people to actually analyse their own political/personal perspective. I'd like to see more students able to come out of high school able to debate topics, able to back up those viewpoints with facts/figures and really have a grasp of the consequences of that viewpoint (i.e. seeing both sides of the equation). In order for students to gain those skills teaching/learning needs to be done differently...students should be able to debate controversial topics in class, using statistics/numbers (yes, even in English class) and there should be real discussions on the issues of today (not just repeating facts of what's in the news). While this list is quite admirable, I can't say that any of my own experiences in high school or any other experiences of anyone I know would be able to say that any high school English class actually taught those skills that this teacher holds up as the skills to learn.

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bluebird227Sep. 3, 1311:29 AM

Gandalf--you should visit a high school English class today. I think you'd be pleasantly surprised. Kids are not sitting quietly in rows answering questions from a textbook. Most teachers, especially in 11-12th grade, spend class discussing the reading and making connections to the real world.

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tangqinSep. 4, 13 2:18 PM

Thanks for the great advice. I think an important aspect of education and an important responsibility of a teacher, not just English teacher, but any teacher, is to teach life lessons, through the subject taught, and more importantly, through her own actions in her daily interaction with the students. I don't really remember most of my teachers from the past, but the one I do remember very well is my high school English teacher. He was a great teacher, but more importantly, he was a great human being, the most humble, generous, and caring person I have ever met in my life. He pushed students to work hard, and he encouraged us and rewarded us for our hard work. His teaching AND his inspiration brought me to a place where I couldn't be without him. He was such a blessing to me that I think of him often, with gratitude in my heart and tears in my eyes. Thanks to all the teachers for teaching, coaching, mentoring, encouraging and inspiring the next generation.

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