Why teach English?: Teleportation and Foundation

I get this often, “Why do you want to teach English to Highschoolers?”

in the tone of “Why did you inject yourself with a deadly virus?”

I will answer this question here and now

and through the act of reading – you will discover the answer…..

We like to believe we are the first and only ones to ask any questions.

Like children we are, grown adults, not taking the time to hear from those who come before us what they discovered when asking questions.  Yes.  The same questions.  We are not the first.

That.  Is why English.

We can live in the woods for years in just minutes by reading Thoreau.

We understand more of society and ourselves reading Poe, Hawthorne, Chaucer, Homer, Douglas, Twain the list goes on and on!

From where ever we stand if we pick up a book and know how to read and ask questions – we are miles from where we started!!  While Scientists race endlessly attempting to debunk or invent teleportation – those studying English already know the secret.  Even novice readers get to experience the thrill, though they may not make the connection.

So get out and find the dust-ridden classics!  Google the lyrics of a song from long ago.

                      ——->  For those of you who like to save $$ – for most of the classics you can rent them from this place called a library….  Your city certainly has one at least for the time being….

                        or for most you can download them for free!!  

Teach me the steps then I will make them my own!
Teach me the steps then I will make them my own!

So why High Schoolers?  Aha, keep reading….

We strive to teach our children individuality.  We honor and celebrate them for being different.  “Oh, aren’t they adorable??”  “What a great sense of individuality!”

Then they hit about 12.

A tumultuous time for any human being.  And we respond to their decisions and individuality with incredulous disbelief.  “You cannot combine that shirt with those pants – you aren’t five anymore!”  “Why are you behaving like you are two?!”

Oh! The questions only get more incredulous as time passes.

We struggle to understand why they fall apart at 17/18.  Why they have no sense of urgency.  We blame society for the era of entitlement.  We blame technology.  (There are many of us that refuse to admit that we have control over this aspect.  Newsflash: the computers haven’t taken over yet….)  We will blame, point fingers and scratch our heads; anything to not question ourselves and what we might have missed along the way.

We can not fathom what they do not understand about growing up and taking responsibility for one’s own path at a time when they should be full of excitement and wonder, curiosity and motivation.

They wonder why we have stopped celebrating their uniqueness, their decision to not be like everyone else.

In our rush to let them be themselves, we have forgotten to teach them the foundation of being human.  I am not referring to any religion here (though that is one method to deliver said material).  I am talking about the “Why are we here?”  ” What are we supposed to do?”

Doubt me?   Read facebook for a day.  Tell me how many posts like that you find. Not just from our teens, but from our twenty and thirty somethings….

Woodstock was great for certain things, but kissing good-bye “old ways” was anything but wise.  Shedding family values and responsibilities – may have opened creative juices for you (you who had a base for stability), but the repercussions are still vibrating through a society of grown children struggling because they had no foundation.

You see – with the right foundation you can build ANYTHING.  You can gut the house and change every room to your heart’s desire.  You can decide you want a triangle house so as to not be anything like the square house your parents had.

You have the knowledge.  You have the ability.  You have the confidence.

It was already more than 20 years ago that a teacher remarked that my interest in English was not nearly as good as developing an interest for Math or Science, so the whole STEM emphasis – please people – that isn’t new either.

But even as far back as Homer and Aristotle, they already knew that human advancement was accomplished in feeling and in thinking.   Push all the science you want down a child’s throat – – even if they hug it all to their chest and run off with it – they will not get very far if you haven’t taught them to THINK FOR THEMSELVES!!!

So, why highschoolers?  Because they are the ones that NEED attention.  The Elementary kids are swarmed with encouragement, the middleschoolers still get enough to get by.  But our High School students – they need discover what questions to ask  and where they can look to find answers.

Reading Rainbow had it right….  It’s in a book.


Congrats on Reading this!  Pass it along to someone else and let it help them in some way… big or small!



One thought on “Why teach English?: Teleportation and Foundation

  1. Critical thinking, learning human empathy, developing a worldview, ethical questioning, taking a stance and communicating that stance to others, building an argument based on textual evidence… Yeah, I’ve had to defend teaching English in high school, too. To my boss, a high school administrator, no less. He flat out said that he thought my job was just “celebrating old dead guys.” I was speechless in the moment, but later that day he received a rather lengthy e-mail explaining why we teach English. 🙂 Great post!

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