Yes, I Am An English Major, And Yes, I Want To Be A Teacher

Yes, I Am An English Major, And Yes, I Want To Be A Teacher

Do you not think that the people who will teach your children are important?

There seems to be a reoccurring theme every time the "so what are you studying?" conversation comes around. It's almost like everyone who I talk to about my English major has a checklist in their head, that I imagine goes like this:

Step one: Patronize her and nod your head with a fake smile.

Tell her, "that's great" in a high-pitched, babying voice, almost like you're talking to a dog.

Step two: Give her the benefit of the doubt.

Ask her what she plans to do with her degree. Ask, "Do you want to go into law?" because clearly, that is the only honorable profession that can come from a degree in English.

"No, I want to be a high school English teacher."

Step three: RED ALERT! What do I say???

No worries, don't panic. Just tell her that we need good teachers, but make sure it is half-heartily so she knows that deep down you disapprove. Make a joke about how those who can't do teach to show her that you can be funny while also reaffirming my disapproval.

Step four: Talk about what you want to study and make subtle hints that you will be more successful than her.

Don't forget to remind her that your workload surpasses hers to establish that your major is harder.

Step five: Walk away.

If you meet another English major who wants to teach, repeat.

Now I realize this probably isn't what goes through people's heads during this conversation, but it sure as hell feels that way. English majors already have a bad rep. I'm sure you've heard the joke about the difference between a pizza and an English major.

No? Spoiler alert: the difference is that a pizza can feed a family of four.

This anti-English-major stigma is one that I personally don't understand, and if being in a major that for some reason is constantly the butt of jokes isn't enough, imagine going into a profession that is also deemed unimportant.

Usually, I am not one to complain about being teased and roasted, but when it comes to my major and wanting to be a teacher, I get mad.

Stop belittling my major! Stop patronizing my hopeful profession!

English is important. Teachers are important. Imagine a world in which no one knew how to write. That'd be a mess. Imagine a world without good teachers. Tragic. Sure, teachers don't make as much as some other professions, but this is what I am passionate about. Teaching others and hopefully passing on a passion that I have to my future students, that's important to me.

I have been blessed enough to have some fantastic teachers who made me excited to learn, and I want to pass that excitement onto others. Is that a crime? Do I need to prove myself to you before you decide that's acceptable? I hope not. You should just be a decent human and respect all majors and professions.

To sum this up: yes, I am an English major, and yes, I want to take a more traditional route and become a teacher. But no, that doesn't make me any lesser than you, and no, I am not becoming a teacher because I "can't do". So, do me and all the other English majors and aspiring teachers a favor: stop patronizing us, stop comparing our major to yours. We are working just as hard as you to do something just as respectable.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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There's A Psychological Reason Why You Absolutely Hate Group Projects

It's about time I need to stop going to bed at two in the morning.

As a sophomore high schooler, I'm ready to start a petition to end all school projects. Given the chance, I would throw group projects in particular off the face of Earth. I'm a fairly open and social person, and I enjoy being a part of groups. However, what I've noticed the past few weeks is that people are never there when you need them. People are unreliable and don't contribute to these group projects, and enough is enough. It's about time I need to stop picking up after people, and it's about time I need to stop going to bed at two in the morning.

In every group project, you encounter many types of people, and it seems impossible to get everyone to work together. We all have different schedules, which makes meeting up an issue. There are often times when group members end up "sick" or "are busy." To have someone show up is, in fact, a miracle.

Not only that, but not all group members contribute equally, despite every promises to work equally. One person always ends up doing more, if not, all the work.

And often, you find yourself surrounded by people that you dislike.

So you start to wonder, what's the point of all this? If adults hate working in teams, then why are they making us do so as well? If they want us to learn, then why aren't we learning anything?

Group projects have such a bad reputation, and often times, we fail to see its intent and purpose. I constantly hear people complain about the situation, blaming the teacher for this assignment. But, perhaps, we're at fault for doing poorly on our group projects.

Group projects are examples of diffusion of responsibility, the phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to take action in the midst of a group due to the belief that others will take on the responsibility, also known as the bystander effect. These two theories intertwine so tight that they are used interchangeably at times. Both state that when more people are around, the less inclined an individual is to do anything about a situation, which lessens the burden on the individual.

There are factors that influence the diffusion of responsibility. An individual may either feel unqualified to take action, or an individual simply doesn’t know what’s going on. Additionally, an individual is less inclined to help unfamiliar faces.

In the context of group projects, people are not as motivated to work towards a common goal. Naturally, people will rely on others to take on their responsibility. Often times, this will put the weight of the project on one person, causing them to do much more work than necessary.

Since group projects usually result in a collective grade, there’s no individual accountability. People tend to pull back, leaving others with more workload. Your individual responsibility doesn’t feel as important anymore because you believe that the others on your team are responsible as well.

A couple of weeks ago, we were assigned a video project. The minimum number per group was two and the highest four. I originally wanted to keep the group small, for I was afraid that I'll end up stressing more. My friend and I started out as a group of two, and we added somebody else upon consideration. And at the last possible moment, the group of three became a group of four.

I was not happy with the arrangement. To be frank, I was disappointed with everyone. I had expected better work ethics, work quality and most importantly, better signs of responsibility.

Like I predicted, I stressed over everyone else's work. People just simply didn't feel the incentive to put in effort, seeing that there will be others that will take over their part for them (which was true). Being the "control freak" of the group, I was the one nuisance that annoyed people into doing their work. But where's the motivation in that? They're only working so that I could stop bothering them. Deep down, they knew that I'd much rather do the entire project by myself than to work with them any more.

Another reason why group projects are despised is that you can’t express your individuality in a group project. There's pressure to not speak out for what you want in fear of being judged. Often times, your opinions or ideas don't align with what others are saying. Everything is subjective. What you think is good is someone else’s bad. What you believe is urgent is probably the opposite of others. Whether you’re working with one person or as a team of five, you have to compromise. And often times, you have to sacrifice something you want in order to make everyone else happy.

And as much as we hate to admit it, in the end, it is everyone's fault.

The purpose of a group project is to get everyone to work and learn something new as a team. Teachers assign group projects in hopes that people will learn from others and utilize each other's strengths to create a masterpiece. Though this seems like a good idea theoretically, it’s not the case in most situations.

But also keep in mind that in the end, it is your project. You're responsible, and you have to be able to learn how to lead. You have to be able to work together as a team, despite the challenges and the clash of opinions. So if you end up being a disappointment to your peers, they’ll do damage control to save themselves from a failing grade. Although it may work out for you, not being responsible for your actions will cause hostility and grudges. Your partners will never really look at you the same ever again.

And if you are the one who is driven insane due to the weight of the entire assignment on your shoulders, I applaud you. Though the stress is practically crushing you now, it'll eventually pass. Take a deep breath because you got this. Though others may never admit it, you are the backbone and deserve the world.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Clem Onojeghuo

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7 Tips For Interview Success

Interviews happen at all stages of our lives!

Interviews can be really daunting, especially if you've never had a professional interview. We all remember the nerves we had the first time we interviewed and it can be difficult to feel confident at times. However, interviews and talking to people you've never met are an important part of life. Since we will all go through an interview at some point in our lives, here are some tips for success!

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

An interviewer can easily tell if you have prepared for the interview. Even if you are nervous, it is obvious you put thought into your answers if they are clear, concise and answer the questions being asked.

2. Always have a resume.

Don't just have one copy, have multiple! You would be surprised at how many people don't bring resumes to an interview, so this will set you apart and make you appear more professional. Make sure to have someone you trust check out your resume before you print it!

3. Dress professionally.

Google business professional dress! For my friends that are men, khakis are not business professional. Make sure your jacket and pants match in order to make an excellent impression! It's never fun to lose points for something as simple as dress.

4. Research the organization or industry.

Doing your research is key to thriving in any interview. The second an interviewer hears you mention specific goals, values or the mission of the organization or company, you get bonus points. When people research the company, interviewers can tell that they actually care about the organization and want the job or position.

5. Tie your answers into the position you want.

A big mistake in interviews is answering the questions without tying them to the organization or why you are a good fit for that position.

6. Ask for contact information.

Another way to make yourself stand out is to ask for the emails or contact information of your interviewer(s) at the end of the interview. Sending a follow up email can be the difference between a good and great candidate.

7. Know how you will add value to the organization.

Be prepared to answer questions about how you will add value to the organization and what unique skills you have! There is only one you, so don't be afraid to show people that!

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