I have a minor in English yet I never had the interest to write consistently until about five years ago when I started blogging. What it took for me to really start wanting to write was the opportunity to write about things that I cared about and have the ability to share it with others. Unfortunately, I never really knew I had the opportunity to do that until after I was done my “education”.
But here is my confession…Although I have a minor in English I have never read a novel from end-to-end.
Here was the problem for me…Fiction has never really been appealing to me in book form. I love watching movies and hearing a great story, but I much prefer hearing and seeing that story, than reading it.
So how would I get a minor in English when I had no interest in reading fiction, when the majority of the reading that we did in those classes was from novels? I learned the “game of school” and applied it to my work. I knew that I could read a bit of the beginning of the novel, part of the middle, and read the end (where I would usually start), and then write an essay to connect these things to my life in somehow or something going on in the world. This wouldn’t necessarily get me a grade in the 90’s, but I did know I could consistently pull off something in between 70 and 80. That was all I needed to move onto the next level, and that next level, ended up being my degree in university.
Some people will say to me when I am tell them this that I miss so much because I don’t read novels and it is such a shame. There is probably some truth to this, but people missed out in school because they didn’t play sports, write for the school newspaper, or act in plays. We miss out any time we choose not to do something, and unfortunately, it is impossible to do everything.
This wasn’t to say that I didn’t love reading. I actually love reading and did it all of the time in school. Anytime I would have a free period, I would go to the library and read the latest Sports Illustrated and even though I would read all of it, I would go directly to the back page and read the article from Rick Reilly. I loved his sharing of inspirational stories and was saddened when another author took that page. I also loved reading non-fiction and still do to this day. True stories are appealing to me, as are books on leadership, teaching, and learning. Those books still inspire me, yet I don’t know if any of my teachers knew this, cared about it, or had the opportunity to care because of the system that they were working in. Tapping into what I loved seemed secondary to teaching the curriculum. It was only until I started exploring my passions that I really felt that I was actually learning.
Don’t get me wrong…There are many things that I learned in school during my time that are beneficial to me today and gave me the tools to learn. But more of that was from teachers who cared about me as a person, than focused on their teaching. That is something that will never change. I have said in the past, that if we only teach students the curriculum we have failed them. There is so much more to our world than what is written in the static pages of a curriculum.
We need to ask questions and challenge the things that we do that have become so commonplace and “normal” in our everyday. For example, does a rubrics set up expectations for students or limitations? Or does having five classes a day in five different subjects make you become more curious or simply exhausted and confused? Is school getting in the way of learning or enhancing it?
So are our students learning at school, or learning to play the game of the school? If the system doesn’t serve our students to follow their passions and go deep into learning, then they’ll either leave or learn to play the game. Do we really want either?