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July 25, 2003

Brilliant little essay on the

Brilliant little essay on the (mis)teaching of high school English. "We are nurturing generations of people who do not read for pleasure and who are unable to sort out bias and point of view when reading the newspaper. . . . Somewhere along the line I gave it all up in favor of short stories, editorials, and deconstructing advertising. Anything to do with language that I thought a citizen, consumer, and culture glutton might eat, I tried to bring in to the classroom. . . . Much of the material used in high school English curriculums is simply not age appropriate for most students. Let's get realistic. Let's get real. Let's help students read for the real world out there. The real world does not demand of us a working knowledge of Gulliver's Travels, even though a few students might enjoy knowing where Yahoo came from."

I would add that in my experience high school and college English courses are taught very strangely. Most introductory courses--say, in physics or history or economics--are taught differently than advanced courses. They are taught as if the students in them are not going to be specialists. English, on the other hand, always seems to be taught as if all the students were senior English majors at Ivy League schools.

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