Coming out as a blogger Part One: High School

| Thursday, January 27, 2011
This is split into two parts because it got very long. The first part is about why I hated writing. It has little to nothing to do with blogging.

If you're like me, you hated English or Literature or anything which might ever require writing in classes in high school. They inevitably involved writing about subjects which were uninteresting and only slightly less often, unwanted. It was a cruel joke when teachers would offer a selection of topics. This simultaneously gave the false hope of a desired topic and admitting that there are some topics which we enjoy less than others. I wasn't exactly bad at writing. My grades were more than adequate. But I didn't enjoy it in the slightest. Writing meant spending time researching something I didn't care about, writing about something I didn't care about, and then getting criticized by the person who caused this whole problem in the first place. Writing sucked.

The other day I got my GRE scores. They were uh, quite good. The highest in terms of being better than a certain percent: analytical writing. I know, shocking, they think I know how to write analytically. Second highest: verbal. Quantitative wasn't low, but in high school if you asked if I liked math or writing more, I'd have said math. I might have also laughed at the suggestion that writing was even in the running. Writing sucked.

Things got better in college. For one, I no longer had to write about absolutely pointless historical nothings which have been picked over a thousand times before. Oh sorry, history was the least of the problems, at least history had facts and some attempt to find an objective reality. I think the Great Gatsby should be made mandatory reading for everyone and at the end everyone is required to say "That was an interesting story. I wonder if it meant anything else?" And then they must sign legally binding agreements which say "no." Symbolism can be fun. It's a delightful thing to find. Double, triple, even quadruple meanings can be great as a way to add, let's call it reread value. To find something new the second, or tenth, time I read is enjoyable. I like that. Less fun is when the reading isn't actually enjoyable, at least not for a typical, or even atypical high school student, making even the first pass nearly unbearable, but during this being required to find, identify, interpret, and memorize, the dozens, or in the case of the Great Gatsby, hundreds per page, of symbols and analogies and oh for fucks sake there was some term we were always using which I must have blanked out because I was so sick of it.

I don't think people who love literature should be allowed to teach it. They have entirely unreasonable expectations. Their passion is wasted and counter-productive. I think instead literature should be taught by people who have a mild interest in textual analysis and like to read before bed, but aren't particularly wedded to any given interpretation of a text, nor should they have any training whatsoever in activities such as "deconstruction", whatever the hell that means.

What I'm trying to say is that I'd have rather classes included more "have you noticed this?" or "here's a new way to read this", and no hint at all of "if you didn't see this then you are stupid." In related news, my hatred of American Literature class was meant to be an introductory paragraph, not what I'm sure will turn out to be the majority of this post. I'm pretty sure I'd fail if I wrote a paper like this. Well too bad.

On the plus side, one of the girls in front of me in class was pretty hot.


Syl said...

"I don't think people who love literature should be allowed to teach it. They have entirely unreasonable expectations."

Haha, I guess you're right about that. funny enough, I did study literature (german and english one) and I shied away from teaching it on the same level, to college kids. I knew it was gonna be utterly disillusioning for me because the majority of students hate that shit. they don't want to take books apart and their hearts don't beat faster when an author manages the perfect marriage between the formal and the textual.

The other side of that being obviously, that I wasn't suited to teach this either - just like they weren't suited for me to teach. and so I didnt. if a topic is a passion to you like that, it can't stand the test of being your everyday job, I don't think. it ruins it for you and like you said, ruins it for others.

I laugh everytime Stumps tells me how much he hated poetry classes in school, dissecting sentences and being told what interpretation is right and which isn't (though that one is debatable anyway). what a pity.

Tesh said...

Urgh. Don't get me started on education. I'll just note that I wholly agree that there should be more "did you notice this" and far less "This is the Way It Is, bend to my will, minion".

I hated history until my senior year when I finally got a good teacher who did indeed lean more in that direction (more "why", less "memorize names, dates and places"). As for English, well... let's just say that the teacher and I didn't get along. Her interpretations were always different from my own, and she thought "As I Lay Dying" was a book worth reading.

Yeah, she was that dysfunctional.

That said, I've always loved reading and writing. It's in my blood.

Klepsacovic said...

@Syl: I have a mixed relationship with poetry. I enjoyed it when I was a little kid, the funny poems of Shel Silverstein or whomever else, but I cou;dn't stand the really emotional poetry that I was forced to read as I got older, especially when it didn't follow a set pattern of rhyming. It was too confusing and I didn't want to know the personal life of the poets.

@Tesh: My parents tell me that when I was young I loved writing; I guess high school and junior high beat that natural love out of me.

Post a Comment

Comments in posts older than 21 days will be moderated to prevent spam. Comments in posts younger than 21 days will be checked for ID.

Powered by Blogger.