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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The high school syndrome

I only loved five classes in high school: Independent Study of Art, Humanities, a class called S.E.A.L (which mostly surrounded an interest in culture), Creative Writing, and AP U.S history. Every morning I woke up, went to school, and tried my best, so that I could get A’s and graduate but I never really actually cared about my classes. I can’t help but wonder and lament about my abysmal ratio of classes I liked versus hated and as I sit and reflect upon this occurrence I realize the commonalities between these classes and the reasons I liked them.
Firstly and foremost, in all these classes I had teachers who have an inexhaustible love and passion for what he or she teaches. Secondly and for the most part, each of my teachers had and have confidence in their students. This may seem trivial, but this trust let my teachers give me, or my class, a lot more freedom for student led discussion and more creatively generated work. If I could say anything about high school, it would be that I liked the classes that had a vague structure, but let me fill in the blanks. When I had the most say in my learning, I churned out my finest work and while enjoying the process. My art teacher let me create my own lesson plan and guided me through different projects that I ultimately chose, and I made some of my best art pieces so far in that class and I loved working on them.
Now three years later and this dilemma still remains a fresh thought in mind, but why? Perhaps because I’m running into this same problem at my university where I now pay teachers to bore me to death with power points and lectures that talk at me instead of include me. College, where I now choose to skip class because I would rather catch up on other work rather than go to a class where the most interesting things I’m seeing are the doodles I’m drawing in my spirals. Maybe I’m misguided in my attitude but lately I feel, as a English major with a writing emphasis, I have had little or no say in what classes I have to take and when I finally fulfill the credits that are required, the electives offered really have no relation to the type of writing I thought I would pursue in college. I entered college with the belief that I would be able to write creatively at least every semester and yet somehow all my lower division and upper division classes rarely involve any creative writing at all.
I don’t mean to complain, because I have had classes like British Literature two, Language of Fiction and Language of Poetry, that I absolutely adored, but for the most part the things I’m looking at and studying don’t really align with my goals of writing fiction. I find myself working constantly on analytical and critical essays and every time I start a new one I ask myself “why did I choose a writing emphasis when I hate this style of writing?” In truth, there aren’t even that many creative writing classes for majors which definitely makes me second guess my choice in emphasis.
This thing that I feel which savors a little like regret makes me stress a hope that something about the English department might change in the future. If I could ask for anything I would want more discussion-based classes that let students really participate in their learning. Maybe more workshop classes that let you edit and rework your writing rather than just turning in one final draft to your teacher for a grade. Lastly, I honestly just would want more options for people who came into this major with hopes of flexing their own writing muscles instead of lauding or critiquing the style of someone else’s. I went through high school barely caring about anything I learned, I don’t want college to be a repeat.


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