Recently, I was reading a piece of literature when I came upon a surprising realization – I was actually enjoying what I was reading. That’s actually not a common occurrence for me.
Well, perhaps my reading habits aren’t as healthy as they should be. Honestly, my reading habits are akin to how I pursue the opposite sex – rarely and reluctantly. But that wasn’t always the case.
I remember a time far gone when I’d read voraciously. Back when I was in elementary school, I would stay up far into the wee hours of night, reading my beloved series like the “Hank the Cowdog” series. However, something went wrong and that thing was English class.
That’s probably an ironic idea; the subject people may think is supposed to foster and enhance a person’s literary ability actually alienated me from the passion of reading. But it’s true. As I grew up, my English classes began to feature “assignments” and “worksheets” – all designed to “strengthen” my learning experience. Soon enough, I couldn’t open a single book without being expected to scour the text for a metaphor or some other literary device. And I highly doubt Mary Shelley hid literary elements into “Frankenstein” specifically for desperate high school students to ignore the story and scavenge for worksheet filler.
I’ve seen similar effects on other students. There have been far too many times when I’ve heard classmates claim that literary classics like “Great Expectations” or “As I Lay Dying” simply “sucked” (it’s a well-known fact that those books are the bomb.com). Sometimes, I’ve shared these sentiments with my classmates, but when I look back at the novels I’ve read in English class, I realize that I may have enjoyed them more than I thought I did.
Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that lots of people harbor a love for reading, exiled somewhere within their tormented souls. I noticed this when the English department gave away free books late last year and I saw people flock to the books with enthusiasm I rarely see in English classes.
Some may think that if English classes did away with worksheets, my problems would be solved, but that’s not the case. We need assignments to help us learn literary ideas that we wouldn’t be able to learn by simply reading alone. However, a change in the frequency and nature of worksheets could be beneficial. If English teachers gave assignments that focus on the hardest and most important material while leaving out simple and menial topics, then students could learn while doing what’s most important when reading – enjoying the novel.