Here at Prairie, students are required to take four years of English versus the standard of three years in Math and Science. This often brings up the question, “Why do we need this class? This isn’t going to help me in the future.” This is actually considerably untrue. When looking at every career in a student’s future path, components of English class will undoubtedly appear in all of them.
Ms. Reeves, English 10, Journalism, and News Publications teacher at Prairie expressed, “I feel that [English class] is the single most important course in education. English as a subject area is a place where students can investigate their own beliefs, and identities, and they can get at the essence of morality through literature.”
English class gives more creative opportunities and outlets for students. In English classes, it is highly subjective. There are rarely as many right or wrong answers like there are in other classes.
However, while sitting in English 10 classes, the students read a short story by John Steinbeck called, Tularecito. They popcorn read the piece out loud, and by the end, students generally aren’t interested. Sophomore, Jacob Bingham gives a firm, “No,” when asked about if he was interested in the English class. As other students walk by, they shake their head in response.
First-year English teacher, Mr. Cox, brings up a good point, “How can we actually have course offerings for Sophomores? So as Freshmen are making their schedule for Sophomore year, there might be English classes to choose from. If they saw a topic they really liked in English class, that might help answer the question of,’Why are we doing this?’”
But when I go back to the beginning of the year with Mr. Anderson discussing the lack of homework completion, and lack of meeting deadlines, the problem still occurs. “I, as an educator, try my best to instill the motivation in my students and help them feel empowered and capable of producing work that is effectively done,” Reeves mentions, “I think there are situations that come up where there are students that don’t meet the deadline, and that’s challenging for me. I enforce deadlines in such a way that I feel are manageable and doable, and I also feel like it’s with purpose…”
While English 10 offers the same course classes for every student, Junior year offers multiple classes to choose from. These include English 11, AP Language and Composition, and AP Literature. But even with these options, students are still displeased with their selected class. Popular statements that a person could hear throughout the halls is, “AP Lang is too hard,” or “English 11 is boring,” and finally, “AP Lit has too much reading.” Although all these statements might be true, there has to be a way to correct the issues.
But according to other teachers, such as Mrs. Sylvester, fixing the issues is harder than it seems. “It’s very difficult to create a curriculum that will appeal to every student… This year in English 10, we are making an effort to include discussions of themes that will apply to everyone’s life in some way, such as the search for identity and the importance of speaking out against injustice. That way we can work toward English holding some relevance for every student, even if it still isn’t their favorite class.”
Nevertheless, English class is still an essential part of the high school experience. Reeves conveys that, “We’re connecting with the characters that we’re reading about and we’re investigating them on a level that helps us reach a sense of enlightenment for ourselves. That’s very important, especially for high schoolers.”