I’m taking two English classes this semester: English Lit II and American Lit I. Due to restrictions on schedule availability, I’m taking English Lit out-of-order and American Lit online. I find that the more schooling I do at this community college, the narrower my options are. They obviously don’t expect me to stay at their school longer than a couple of semesters. But, I digress. I wanted to just speak so far on my English classes.
Brit Lit is pretty cool. It’s only the beginning of the semester, but I’m acquainted with the instructor (Dr. Showers) and he’s a Pratchett fan as well as a really smart guy. American Lit is, frankly, really boring so far. Like I said, we just started the semester, so we’re just on early American writers, who were mostly Puritan blowhards that make me more and more thankful that our forefathers separated church and state from the get-go. The writing style is unbearable, but they weren’t writing to entertain. They were writing to show everyone how smart they were. Ugh. I read a lot of difficult books, like Lord of the Rings and Jane Austen and Alexander Dumas but their stuff is at least entertaining. What those authors do with words is clever. What the Puritan guys do is torture.
And yet, it is not nearly as torturous as reading the student discussions. Ms. Pattie (an exceptional English teacher as well and definitely one of my favorites at the school) posts on the discussion board a series of questions about the reading we have to answer. She also encourages us to read everyone else’s comments and actually discuss the work. I have been faithfully reading through the posts and I keep coming back to the same question: Do they know they have spell check? Are they aware that they are writing to an English teacher? I don’t mean to dump on people. I understand that writing is not easy for everyone. However, if you passed English 101 and 102 (a requirement for the class), then you should be aware of things like commas and periods. It doesn’t have to be fancy or clever just so long as it is intelligible. I don’t know who might be reading this, but I am really curious how someone can publish a paragraph in a public forum without reading it back to themselves to make sure it makes sense. I feel like a snob for saying this but it is driving me up the wall.
Another thing irritating me about this forum we have is that I’m seeing very little individual thought. Once the first person has posted, most of the other posts are pretty much summaries of that first post. I understand that since we are reading the same work (and it is very complicated reading) that many of the answers will be similar. But a lot of it is supposed to be based on opinion as well. If you agree with a previous post, say you agree with it and point out something different to quantify it. It’s not like we’re talking about a short poem or a short essay. It was pages and pages of dull reading. Surely something original came of your reading. It’s almost better to put up something completely wrong than to just copy the work of others. At least in that instance, Ms. Pattie can correct you if you are wrong or congratulate you on hitting on a theme no one else might have noticed. (In literary analysis, it is my opinion that there are no wrong answers as long as you can prove it.)
But enough on that. My new habit now is hanging around the English teachers (though I’m not sure I can call it new since I started doing it last spring). Like today, my Psych class got cancelled, so I chatted up Ms. Pound (my 102 teacher from summer semester), Ms. Pattie (where I got an even better understanding of the text) and Dr. Showers (where we talked about books and Scholar Bowl). I’ve always had a problem with being a teacher’s pet, but is that really a bad thing? I’m not tattling on other students or anything. I’m talking to people about things that interest me (like good books and movies and tv shows). Who besides the English teachers would care to discuss books that haven’t been made into movies? I don’t ever want to be a teacher, but those are my favorite people, right there. Here’s hoping that whatever college I end up in next fall, the English teachers are as B.A. as the ones here.
I’m sorry that thus far you all (my tiny little audience) have been stuck with ramblings and short episodes of a much larger and (hopefully) more interesting story. I will try to add some of my more exciting episodes soon.