Comments, Happy Feet and Kayhi English

First off, readers, (now that I know you exist) if you enjoy what you read here, please comment on the articles and vote in my polls as well. Or if you think there are things I can improve- for example, my insertion of updates about the blog into the beginnings of other articles- please tell me so I can address your issues and concerns. I track the visits to the site, but maybe all you many diverse people who have come here from all over the world aren't reading this at all. Maybe you just glanced at it and then went on, or when you do stay it's just because you leave it up on your computer and are doing something else. Maybe you do read my posts, but you don't understand a word! How can I know unless you comment? Thank you!

Tonight I watched Happy Feet for the first time, and I thought it was a pretty good movie. The combination of CGI with real people was well done and the music and dance were good. If there had been enough music to make the story a musical it might very well be one of my favorite musicals. As just a movie though I wouldn't call it an instant favorite. Very few movies really become favorites of mine, although you might think differently looking at my profile.

Yes, I really did like Happy Feet, although it was painfully obvious liberal and environmentalist propaganda. That was actually a very small part of why I liked it; it was just genuinely a well conceived good story. And if you haven't watched it, I recommend it. (7 out of 10)

Today was actually my birthday, and so my family was over at my house for dinner and at some point after presents the conversation turned to the high school dropout rate, which, needless to say, is a disgrace. This turned to Kayhi English, as failing English is the main reason that kids at Kayhi drop out.

As things are, freshmen must take a class called "English I" and sophomores must take a class called "English II". Then, only when students are juniors and seniors can they choose from a variety of English classes. English I and II teach basics considered essential to passing the HSGQE and have pretty much the same curriculum from teacher to teacher. Needless to say, I did not particularly enjoy either class. My highlight of English I was definitely reading the Lord of the Flies; at least, that's the most memorable thing. I can't remember much else beyond that and reading Romeo and Juliette, so I'll trust that my memory kept the best things from that class.

English II was much worse, perhaps only much worse in my mind because it was more recent. Whether perspective is involved or not, though, I know it was worse at least to some extent, largely because of the inconsistency and capriciousness of the teacher and perhaps also just less interesting reading and subject matter. The highlight of the class work was probably reading Ender's Game, which I had been encouraged to read previously but just hadn't gotten around to doing. Throughout both freshman and sophomore years it was required for us to study weekly vocab words and then take quizzes on this words. Fortunately this was less frequent in English II, but this was a pleasant side effect of the teacher's aforementioned capriciousness.

This year in AP Language and Composition I have been incredibly happy, especially in retrospect. I've done great work with great assignments and I've read a few good books too. There were no vocab quizzes. There was set, consistent, strict policy since the beginning that was adhered to by the teacher up until the end when things started slackening off. I learned a lot, I got a ton of practice with important skills, and I believe I was rewarded at the end with a good result on the AP test. I don't know yet though.

So what separates AP English from English I and II? Having letters in the front of the class name instead of at the end? I think it has a lot to do with choice. I applied to AP English; I chose that class and really wanted to be in it. What if a variety of English classes were open to freshman and sophomores and they could choose a class that involved something they enjoy? The English language and skills involving its use can be taught around a multitude of topics and using a multitude of methods. Even the standardized requirements of NCLB and the HSGQE could be fit into a huge variety of settings that would fit into the interests of different kids.

English can even be taught through other school subjects, and I believe that at one time history and English were paired in that way. What if a student got to go into a class on science fiction and learned about both physics and plot devices? Students already learn about different things through their English classes. Even with the passages in standardized tests this is true. You can't have writing or a story just about the language it's being written in!

Here's my plan in a nutshell: let's do away with English I and II and then provide a variety of classes to underclassmen from Asian Literature to Poetry even to Fan Fiction. When students choose a genre they enjoy, they will be better able to learn. Even when studying poetry, basic paragraph and essay writing skills can easily be incorporated into the curriculum, and as to vocab- you learn vocabulary from reading. Students do not retain vocab that they memorize for ten minutes before a quiz each week. I can count a grand total of three vocabulary words that I remember having learned through the method: nadir, hackneyed and hirsute.

Let's destroy the institution of "I" and "II" and provide some real classes for the students of Ketchikan High School. Then maybe the kids will stay in school.

Comments

  1. Speaking of school...
    I WILL LOVE YOUR FOREVER AND ETERNITY AND ETC IF YOU, ELLIOT, OR ANY OF YOUR OTHER FRIENDS WHO ARE NOT NAMED MICHELLE TAKE ME AS YOUR SLAVE. I SWEAR TO GOD, PLEASE HAVE ME AS YOUR SLAVE, PLEASE DON'T LET MICHELLE MCOLLOUGH TAKE ME! PLEASE! I BEG YOU! I DON'T LIKE HER! TAKE ME! OR HAVE ELLIOT TAKE ME, I BEG YOU! IF MICHELLE TAKES ME, I WILL TOTALLY DITCH HER AND NOT WALK HER IN! TAKE ME PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
    Yeah, just had to get that across. ._.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You, Sir,
    need to bring this up to the shcool board. It's a wonder no one else has done so yet.

    -miss.american.pie

    ReplyDelete
  3. You, Sir
    need to bring this up to the school board.
    It's a wonder that no one esle has bothered to yet.

    -miss.american.pie

    ReplyDelete

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