Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Paperback's Pondering's: I Hate How English Classes Handle Required Reading
Paperback's Pondering's is a weekly discussion when I take a topic and well, ponder about it! This week's topic is basically me ranting about how much required reading annoys me.
Being fresh into summer, I can officially state how much I hated Grade 11 English. English SHOULD be my favourite subject, however once we got into required reading my mark seemed to drop and I felt so stressed over it. Now why would my mark drop over reading, wouldn't it go up? Well the answer is because I hate how English classes handle required reading.
We had to read the book Oryx and Crake by: Margaret Atwood this year. Now I have nothing against Atwood, I'm sure she's a talented person, but this book was gross, twisted, and way too scientific for me. It was also boring as hell. Now what annoyed me about required reading wasn't just how bad the book was, because let's be honest, usually the English books we have to read are crap, but it's the actual questions and "significant" moments that we have to look into.
The questions on our tests for this book were literally structured as: "what was the colour of Jimmy's quilt that he sleeps on in chapter 25"? Now for a reader, one may not be worried about answering questions like this, however for me, I DO NOT REMEMBER insignificant moments like that in books! It's just not important!
The point is, that English classes try to find some significance in absolutely EVERYTHING in a book. Maybe this is just my opinion, but the colour of someones t-shirt is not important to the overall prop and therefore should not be a question! Teachers need to understand that maybe some things were just added to a book to add detail, but they don't mean anything.
Then what annoys me is having to completely BS some answer on the test such as "Jimmy ate pizza over chicken nuggets because he felt pressured by social expectations to eat the pizza". No, he just ate the pizza because he WANTED TO EAT THE FREAKING PIZZA! People look way too far into books for English.
Required reading actually turns me off of my all time favourite hobby because it asks way too much. I thought English was supposed to be subjective, but it seems like I'm always forced to look way too far into something when I know, the author knows, and Barack Obama knows that it doesn't mean anything! So please English teachers, let's focus on the actual major plot points in a book and not on the colour of a freaking curtain.
Do you like how required reading is handled?
Emily @ Paperback Princess
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I feel you SO MUCH. Reading is required on my Portuguese classes (aka my language, so of course), but it's just SO BORING. First of all, I hate how we have to read books set 50 years ago, that don't even speak to our reality or our problems anymore.ReplyDelete
I also feel like, sometimes, our teachers force us to look at a book by a determined perspective. The good thing about reading for fun is that we all have different views on the same scene or topic in the book. That's why reviewing and discussing is so fun! But, at the class, I feel like our teachers tell us the "right way to think" and if you don't think that way, then your answer is wrong. I mean, how can we limit someone else's interpretation of a novel?
That was such a great post, Emily. I'm glad I can share my struggles with someone, hahah.
It does seem like Enlish teachers try and force an option on us! It's like: english is subjective, unless you give the answer I don't want to hear". I'm glad we could talk about this Lais!Delete
'And Barack Obama knows' - Em, you rock! :)ReplyDelete
Beat them at their own game - that's what I used to do. Use phrases like 'some people may think that the blue colour of the curtains signifies that there was a coldness to the room, though of course others will see it as an incidental detail with no significance.' - You've acknowledged the answer they're looking for, but also registered that you have the ability to think for yourself (and you think they're making a mountain out of an ever-loving mole-hill.)
I used to do that constantly in English - be like 'some people think that... but it could also be that...' - covers the bases and makes you seem more smartical. The question is not what the colour of the curtains means, but what it *might* mean to some people (like obsessed interior designers - giving the reader a wacky persona also used to help a lot when essay-writing.)
Overall though Em, just chill. As weird as this might sound, the more you approach it like it's no big deal, the easier it will be. (And if all else fails, write with a really big font/handwriting, and use big words!)
Thank you for the tips Cee! I'm definitively going to use those statements next year. I definitely do need to try and not worry about it though. You're right when you say that the more I forget, the easier it will be. And big font always works :DDelete
Glad to help. I used to drive my A-level English teacher mad (I didn't like her, and we nearly ran her over once... that's another story... she was drunk... my life sounds so much more interesting when I explain it to other people...)Delete
Anyway, I used to drive my English teacher mad because she thought my essays were amazing, but she'd ask me something in class and I'd be like *shrugs* 'I 'unno' (I should explain that my accent cuts off a lot of the beginnings and ends of words due to the fact that it's a mix of 2 local accents (I basically sound like a farmer) - what I meant was 'I don't know')
She wasn't a great teacher anyway - my mate was literally asleep in most of our lessons for two years. The teacher noticed once.
Sorry, it's been a long day, and I tend to ramble when I'm tired ;)
You almost ran her over?! Well that's a story that I would love to hear one day!Delete
Again, my life sounds so much more interesting when I explain it to other people! Basically, she got completely sh**faced at our prom, and lurched out in front of my father's car when he came to pick me up.Delete
Well that's an amazing role model right there! 😝Delete
This is so relatable! I used to really detest required reading in classes too, and for pretty much the same reason as you. Unlike you, though, I always ended up giving them exactly what they wanted. I guess I really can't help being the teacher's pet, haha! However I won't deny that it's so, so annoying. It is, and as much as it made me want to scream, I didn't want my grades to drop either. Just bear with it, I guess? You can always resort to ranting on the blog when things are particularly frustrating!ReplyDelete
Haha this is what a blog is made for, ranting! I do at the end of the day tend to just give them what they want, because like you said, I don't want my grades to drop. We all just need to hang in there I guess!Delete
John Green said “It doesn’t matter if the author intended a symbol to be there because the job of reading is not to understand the author’s intent. The job of reading is to use stories as a way into seeing other people as we see ourselves.”ReplyDelete
you should tell your teacher THAT :)
Lol I should! He is a wise man that's for sure!Delete
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. I absolutely hated the way English teachers always had these specific interpretations for every. single. detail. Seriously, I agree. He ate the pizza because he just wanted to eat pizza. Not because of some deep symbolism. But also, kind of in the same thread as Michelle's statement above, books are about interpretation. Once a piece of art, like a book, is put out in front of the public, it's out of the author's control. Everyone might see them differently, and there is no "wrong" way. Students shouldn't be forced to only see one specific interpretation of something in a book.ReplyDelete
So yeah, I just completely agree that I never liked English in school because of the way the required reading was done.
I totally agree! English teachers of all people should realize that art is to interpretation, but not all of them do.Delete
I love this! As someone taking A level English, and fearing how processed the reviewing process might become, I felt I could connect with what you were saying to a tee. For me, I think I've been quite lucky in my English teacher recently, as they credited individualistic thoughts and conceptions ... however, that's not to say my other teachers in the past have followed the same route. I HATE HATE HATE having to all follow the same rigid grid line structure of review - it's so tedious, and makes me dislike the book, even if I would otherwise be enjoying it. Sometimes, I feel as if the text itself also has a bearing though: I tend to be fine with the memory recall if I've properly engaged with the novel first. I can't stand it when they do chapter summaries and what-nots on the first read through; I think you have to be able to go through it by yourself to actually CREATE A PERSONAL RESPONSE. Otherwise, they kind of corner you in to one manufacturared thought that "should" be felt.ReplyDelete
I definitely agree!! I haven't been as lucky with teachers and the annoying thing is that when they make you follow that structure it does take away the enjoyment factor. As readers we are supposed to appreciate a book, but when teachers restrict us, it makes it a lot harder.Delete
Totally agree, most required reads are just boooring or terrible, and even when they're not, the tests will make me hate the books. I graduated this year, but our teacher used to do the 'what did he wear here and there' ALL.THE.TIME. I totally get that she was trying to see who actually read the book and who only read about it on the internet, but this way she ended up screwing us all. THANK YOU.ReplyDelete
There was this one particular, Hungarian book that pissed me off - it was a comedy (kinda like Don Quixote, so yeah, REAL FUNNY *sarcasm*), and we also had to watch the adaptation... and then write a test that had questions about both. Of course, the teacher went and asked how many soldiers were in this one, 2 min long scene, and what did the one who stood at the front wore. I totally didn't know, of course. And so, because this was a short test, that one question was enough to make me get one grade lower than the highest - 4 instead of 5. THAT MADE ME SO MAD. Like, I spent two hours watching that boring ass movie, the PREVIOUS afternoon, so I'd remember everything. Plus, I spent around 4 hours reading the book and then got the same grade as some who didn't read nor watched the movie, because the rest of the questions were incredibly easy. #endofrant
Another thing I hate about Lit - at least Hungarian Lit - is how many poems we have to analyze. Honestly, in 12th grade, it was mostly just poems, poems, poems. I was SO BORED. There were times when we were talking about an 8-line-long poem for 45 minutes... I'm not even joking.
Speaking of all this actually turned me completely off Lit, which is not good, because I'm going to study English Lit & Language at uni. YAY. I chose wisely. lol
Great post, Emily! :)
I absolutely HATE IT when I try so hard on a test but I seem to get a lower mark simply because my memory isn't as good as someone else. ENGLISH ISNT ABOUT MEMORY! I haven't analysed that many poems so far but I suspect Grade 12 will bring many more. Hopefully your lit classes will be more enjoyable than they have been!Delete