Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Things you didn't know about American lit

These are excerpts from actual papers by my actual 17-year-old American Lit students. Enjoy.

The assignment: Read a book chosen from a list I give you. Research the history and literary criticism of the novel. Write a paper on the book's impact on American society.

"The book Color Purple impact America like the schools didn't want the students to read the book because they said that the book talk about sex... But why do they act like if the students don't know nothing about sex when they know about sex probably more than the teachers."

"[Sylvia Plath] had depression on mans before she got married with Hughes."

"The title of the book is Inherit the Wind. The book is about this man who breaks the law. He was a Roman circus man he used to do tricks and magic and more. So then one day the spectators, uneasely, barely able to restrain themselves. It impact society because if you break a law you go to jail or prison."

"George Lucas, the Father of Star Wars, ripped off Dune in many ways. There will be a bunch of Star Wars fans that will be pissed off after reading this, but who cares."

Tomorrow: Freshmen short stories.


  1. I came across your blog and found it a joy to read!

  2. I have no response to this.

  3. that kid who wrote about george lucas.

    ...i hope you gave him an A. An A for keen observation.

  4. Ummm...

    Seriously...? Seriously...

    Emily, seriously, teach these kids grammar. The basics. The fundamentals.

  5. Yes. It should be no problem at all to undo 16 years of lapsed grammar education in 8 weeks.

    Grammar should have been taught in elementary school. My job is higher level thinking, not the basics.

    One of the major reasons their grammar is so bad is that they don't get the practice at home those of us with native speaking parents got. There's nobody in the house to help them with their homework.

  6. So, it's Friday night and I'm sitting in a Starbucks at the Sherman Oaks Galleria working on a rewrite... okay, reading your blog and aviding the rewrite... and I'm surrounded by high school kids. Hundreds of them. None of them are doing anything - they are just hanging. And using their outdoor voices indoors.

    One kid asks me if I'll buy him a frappaccino - huh? Why don't you buy your own? Don't have any money. Well, why don't you get a job? I'm still in school, 17.

    Hmm... I was working full time my last 2 years of high school.

    Both of my parents were working. Back then, I was just a regular kid... now I think child services would have arrested my parents for neglect. Times change.

    (Yeah, I know, kids get off my lawn)

    Okay, Sherman Oaks is a bunch of rich kids... but don't kids do anything other than just hang?

    I'm guessing your kids didn't spend any time on this assignment. Maybe some of them are working... but how many were just hanging with friends when they should have been doing homework?

    My question: if I looked at these rich kids' papers - would I also find 16 years of lapsed grammer? Though it's probably worse when the parents don't speak English in the home (so kids don't come by grammer natuarally) - are these kids making all of this noise around me in Sherman Oaks any better? They sure don't seem to be doing their homework.

    - Bill

  7. Nice post Bill.

    I almost didn't say anthing because of the English as a second language factor.

    Emily. I truly believe that every single one of your reasons for being unable to teach the basics is all the MORE reason to teach them.

    "Grammar should have been taught in elementary school."

    But it wasn't. These kids are 17 years old. With the writing abilities showcased, they will be extremely lucky to go to college.

    Give them the opportunity.

    "It should be no problem at all to undo 16 years of lapsed grammar education in 8 weeks."

    I, for one, never said the job of being a teacher was easy.

    But don't write off your students because someone else dropped the ball.

    "My job is higher level thinking, not the basics."

    I agree. But how do you quantify higher level thinking in a class that is predominantly based on reading and writing?

    Through analytical thought displayed through WRITING.

    If you have students who just can't get a handle on writing, but can manage to do it through film, art, or any other outlet, that requires thought, reflection, introspection, I sincerely encourage you to take that path with your kids.

    But it seems to me like your kids are just biding their time till they graduate.


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