Required English Classes Are Turning Students Away From The Literary Conversation

Required English Classes Are Turning Students Away From The Literary Conversation

It's difficult to interact with a source in a research paper when the source and the literary work and everything in between make you feel like you have nothing valuable to add to the conversation.
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As an English tutor, the phrase I hear most often, in relation to Shakespeare and Hemingway and literally every over-assigned author, is "I don't care." When you take away all the layers of "what does this quote imply?" and "what is the author attempting to say here?", you reveal the answer to the question "why is this important?". The answer, for most students, is that it's not, or that they don't know what is important and they don't know why this matters and why the hell do they have to care about Shakespeare anyway and I'm a nursing major, for god's sake.

These students are not stupid or "uncultured" or too incompetent to appreciate the beauty of iambic pentameter. They don't care because there's no reason for them to because they hate the subject and all the long, grueling work it takes to come up with a cohesive essay about something they have no opinion about. It's hard to craft an argumentative thesis without an actual opinion. It's hard to answer the question "so what?" in your conclusion if you don't know why your argument is important in the first place. All of the sources and readings that professors are assigning, dealing with deconstruction and gender performativity and every other literary theory concoction, aren't helping.

Reading Shakespeare is hard enough, and the picks of scholarly articles that make their way into required English classes aren't helping. Reading theory that you have no background or interest in is alienating and turns students off from comprehending their readings. Students can't answer the question "what was this article about?" because they don't know! And they shouldn't be expected to know. Who introduces Foucault and Butler in a 101 class?

We tell students that they should be "engaging with their sources" and "joining the literary conversation" but how can they when the literary canon is so set and when scholarly works make it even harder to feel like you know what you're talking about. It's difficult to interact with a source in a research paper when the source and the literary work and everything in between make you feel like you have nothing valuable to add to the conversation.

Students are overwhelmed and alienated from participating in the literary conversation because they feel like they don't belong in it. Who would ever want to put in the effort to be involved in a conversation they feel unwanted in?

Cover Image Credit: Augusta State PR / Flickr

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50 Things to Do When You're Bored and Completely Alone

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For people like me, spring break is a time where you come home and have absolutely nothing to do. You're parents work all day and you're either sibling-less or your siblings have already moved out. Most of your friends are on the semester system, so your breaks don't line up. You're bored and completely alone.

Although while being alone sounds boring, sometimes it's nice to just hang out with yourself. There is a plethora of unique and creative things you can do. Netflix marathon? That's overdone. Doing something productive or worthwhile? You do enough of that in school anyway. Whatever the reason is for you being alone, I have assembled a list of unique things to do to cure your boredom.

SEE ALSO: 50 Things To Do Instead of Finishing Your Homework

  1. Have a solo dance party.
  2. Teach yourself how to do an Australian accent (or any accent for that matter).
  3. Learn how to play harmonica (or any instrument for that matter).
  4. Buy an at home workout DVD.
  5. Bake a cake (and eat the whole thing for yourself).
  6. Take a rollaway chair and ride it down the driveway.
  7. Paint a self-portrait.
  8. Plant some flowers in your backyard.
  9. Become a master at air-guitar.
  10. Perform a concert (just for yourself).
  11. Write a novel.
  12. Become an expert on quantum mechanics.
  13. Give yourself a new hairdo.
  14. Knit a sweater (if you don't know how, learn).
  15. Make a bunch of origami paper cranes and decorate your house with them.
  16. Make homemade popsicles.
  17. Reorganize your entire closet.
  18. Put together a funky new outfit.
  19. Make a short film.
  20. Try to hold a handstand for as long as possible.
  21. Memorize the lyrics to all of your favorite songs.
  22. Create a website.
  23. Go on Club Penguin and troll a bunch of children.
  24. Become your favorite fictional character.
  25. Become your favorite animal.
  26. Practice your autograph for when you become famous.
  27. Create a magical potion.
  28. Learn a few spells.
  29. Learn how to become a Jedi.
  30. Put the TV on mute and overdub it with your own voice.
  31. Make paper hats with old newspapers.
  32. Become a master at jump roping tricks.
  33. Create music playlists based on random things, like colors.
  34. Find a chunk of wood and carve something out of it.
  35. Find something that doesn't have a Wikipedia page and create one for it.
  36. Create a full course meal based on whatever's in your kitchen.
  37. Teach your pet a new trick.
  38. Take a bunch of artsy photographs.
  39. Make a scrapbook.
  40. Learn a bunch of new words and incorporate them into your speech.
  41. Try to draw the most perfect circle without using a compass.
  42. Make your own board game.
  43. Memorize some poetry well enough so you can recite it.
  44. Build a fleet of sailboats and float them in your bathtub/pool.
  45. Write a song.
  46. Practice picking locks.
  47. Make a drum kit out of random household items and play it.
  48. Draw a tattoo on yourself.
  49. Give yourself a new piercing.
  50. Figure out the meaning of life.
Cover Image Credit: Josh

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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