This post originally appeared on an old blog on 2011-03-31. It’s part of a series of posts which I’m “recovering” from the archives.
I was not the biggest fan of English class at school. Past me goes on a very negative rant. I must have been annoyed at this.
[edited lede 2020]
Learning English Sucks
or “I Hate English!”
First: What is a Rant? Well, A rant is a “speech” or comment that is overly lengthy whose aim is to change the ideas of those who hear or read it to theirs or, at least, to make them understand your views.
So what will i rant about now? This: The State of English language education in schools in Scotland.
Firstly, Why do i need to take exams to prove that i can understand English. The fact that i can be in an English speaking school suggests that i can already. Why do i you need a piece of paper that says you can understand and speak English when you applied for the job using an English application form? it defies logic. If you are from another country then you may want to improve your skills, or if you want to be a teacher, fine. But why should everyone else have to?
Also, the way it is taught. At SQA INT2 level [which is what I’m studying] the main body of the course is either:
- Critical Essay Writing
- Close Reading & Analysis 2010 Papers (link is dead in 2020)
Only a small part of the course is actually about being creative and creating your own stuff. this seems reasonable to you does it? Perhaps you need to know the whole story before you understand.
Well, First i will deal with Critical Essay Writing.
What does it involve? It involves taking a wonderful piece of literature [either a play, a novel or a poem] and deconstructing it to form its basic components which are then, in turn, torn apart to show miniscule bits of data which are then re-built in such a way that it can be analysed to show something completely different that the author/poet/playwright probably did not intend. The worst part is that all we study are texts whose creators are dead so there is no way of confirming the true meaning.
We [my class] have all told our teacher our views, yet despite this, she still refuses to change her tactics on the grounds that “that is what you’re being tested on”. I don’t understand. the famous writers that you read about all have these qualifications yet they are the ones being creative. what we do is the opposite. Yet somehow this is supposed to get us to be good writers. “Logic Fail”, severe “logic fail”.
Also, the general consensus from my class is that after having analysed any piece of work in class, by the time we finish they all hate it. Currently we are working on “ A view from the bridge”, a play by Arthur Miller. Having gone to see it in production we all loved it and couldn’t wait to get started in class. a month passes. We all hate it now. even the mention of it brings tears to our eyes.
Critical essays therefore, rather than teach us English, make us hate it. Very counter-intuitive.
Now i will deal with the monstrosity known as Close Reading
This is split into 2 parts:
- Close Reading [questions on newspaper articles]
- Textual analysis [like essays but short answer questions]
This is even worse. it allows the less able pupils to scrutinize perfectly good pieces of literature and reporting. Yes, admittedly for some of us it advances our vocabulary but for the general student all it does is ensure that they will read next to nothing else in life. our teacher encourages us to “read newspaper articles”. All doing these close readings is that it makes us want to avoid newspapers at all costs.
And textual analysis teaches us no more than the critical essays do. All you are doing is giving short answers, not essays. No imagination here. And teachers wonder why pupils don’t want to learn.
Lastly, i would like to add how disappointed i am in the option choices for my next years study. this Example[link is dead in 2020] should indicate what I’m talking about. what you see may be different to my choice form, but essentially what I’m upset about is that the choice form has only English as a subject i can take in one of the columns. i would much rather have taken computing.
If anyone from GHS is reading this, then heed what I’m saying. you will have to deal with it at some point. We all do. The lack of funding will only make things worse.
p.s. good luck with any upcoming exams and have a nice Easter break.