Are English Classes Totally Worthless?
SirAlecoftheIntegral makes a bold claim, but can he back up his big talk? (We're really into the phrase "big talk" right now.)—Sparkitors
I recently read a SparkLife post all about the Glorious Classics, and I couldn’t help but think how much I hate/abhor/detest/loath the study of Literature. It’s stupid, vague, arbitrary, and useless! As someone who has loved reading and writing for as long as he can remember, you're probably wondering why I think English is such a lame subject. Well, lemme tell you:
Reason #1: I dare you to name another non-elective course that teaches you to have a specific opinion about entertainment. Math? Fact. Science? Fact. History? Faccct. Yet when a teacher shoves Hawthorne, Shakespeare, or Fitzgerald in my face, I’m required to read it, to study it, and to like it. Sorry if I don’t learn a whole lot from pointlessly induced boredom.
Reason #2: You don’t learn anything from English class after 8th Grade. At least in our primary school years we were taught about spelling, grammar, words, sentences, punctuation, verbs, and oxford commas. Now all we get is an opinion of The Great Gatsby shoved down our throats with an emphasis on symbols, allusions, themes, and narration.
Sure, reading is important and if you don’t like it you are probably unintelligent anyways, but when is the study of books ever going to help us? Reading is fun, I'm not arguing that. Analyzing the themes in a novel? Yeah, pretty fun too. But spending a year researching and discussing the literary devices in writing is so pointless. If you want me to learn how to portray a theme of religious hypocrisy by overusing the hell out of imagery and foreshadowing, then assign a creative writing assignment! Don’t make me read The Scarlet Letter so that I can see how someone else would do it! That’s like giving me the answer!
Reason #3: I don’t care if King Lear has “literary merit”; just because Shakespeare was able to convey his themes with original and clever methods doesn’t mean that that the story is interesting. Excuse me if I would rather read about some Freaking-Awesome Trio Of Wizards than a greedy old man whose shortsighted decisions have negative consequences for him and the people he loves. That doesn't make me any less intelligent than the drama fans out there.
The reason I don’t like Shakespeare is not because I don’t understand him—it's that the actual content of his work is boring! There is nothing wrong with classic literature, and a lot of it (To Kill A Mockingbird, Life of Pi, Atlas Shrugged) is pretty darn great, but for me, literary merit does not automatically equal an interesting story. So don’t judge me!
Do you think English class serves a purpose, or does Alec make a valid argument?
Related post: Why English is the Best Subject in the Universe