by Lucy Zhang, Age 15, USA
English class stopped being useful in fifth grade when we learned the basics of spelling, reading, and grammar. After that, teachers stick books and reading guide questions together and assume those things will teach us how to write.
From literary analyses to research papers, essays are the bane of most students who are trying to be writers. Quotes must be thoroughly dissected until they lose all emotional meaning and become purely scientific evidence. Words are pulled from the quote and attached to meanings that supposedly portray the author’s message.
In my sophomore English class, I had to write a literary analysis about the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Just like in math, there was a formula: write a topic sentence, pull a quote from the text, analyze specific parts of that one quote, and conclude. I needed a dense quote with literary devices–from metaphors to symbols. This analysis served only to dissect quotes until they lost all meaning. The physical explanation of the quote was on paper, but it was no longer there emotionally.
I owe none of my writing skills to English class but to the gradual maturation of my mind and time spent writing outside of school. What is going wrong in the classroom? The simple answer is that English class is both boring and impractical. You have to wonder, will I be analyzing literature in the future? Will it be directly pertinent to my career, income, future? Probably not.
From my experience, English class does not nurture a student’s writing abilities. We need to be able to make our own trials and errors with the written word.
Lucy Zhang is a 15 year old writer from the US. Lucy says, “I first began writing poetry, and later started short stories and nonfiction articles. I am a submissions editor for my school’s Literary Magazine and also a writer for a student-run newspaper column. I would like to eventually write and publish a novel, once my attention span can handle it.”