Register to reply

Why is English compulsory at school?

by VertexOperator
Tags: compulsory, english, school
Share this thread:
Ryan_m_b
#73
Feb18-13, 05:38 PM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,407
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
Like I said, keep it a hobby; people give literary analysis so much credit. 'Let's pick apart this author's book and come up with totally subjective remarks about it that can be bent into sounding way more profound than it was meant to be. Now let's debate over our subjective interpretations of another man/woman's writing!' I find it ridiculous people make this into a PhD venture.
That doesn't address my points, just reiterates your dismissal. You're also being entirely too narrow with literature, it doesn't really matter what an author intended but what can be drawn from the story. For example it doesn't matter if author X didn't intend for their book to be homophobic but if it includes cultural behaviours that are homophobic or encourage a heteronormative worldview then there is merit in analysing those themes for broader discussin. Media is after all a reflection of the culture that produces it and I don't see how you can dismiss the exploration of culture through media. To trivialise literary criticism as you are doing is a massive oversimplification.
WannabeNewton
#74
Feb18-13, 05:39 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,450
Quote Quote by FreeMitya View Post
So your advice to someone only interested in literary studies or the humanities in general is that he/she just shouldn't bother?
I don't tell others what to pursue. They can do whatever their heart desires, just don't force me to do these things in school and college.

Quote Quote by FreeMitya View Post
What if someone's experience as a student of literature turned him/her towards becoming a writer, and he/she wrote a work that, through the power and feeling of his/her writing, inspired hope in someone that had none.
If he/she wants to spend his/her life writing essays about interpretations of other people's works then he/she can do just that; like I said people can pursue whatever it is they love, it doesn't matter to me. But don't tell me this is a job that carries the state of society on its shoulders. You're literally dedicating your studies to looking at writings of others and coming up with extremely subjective remarks regarding what certain things in the specific book mean. I see little to no purpose in making this a career. What you stated would be nice if it could happen; the if's are few and far apart.
jbunniii
#75
Feb18-13, 05:45 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
jbunniii's Avatar
P: 3,217
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
You're literally dedicating your studies to looking at writings of others and coming up with extremely subjective remarks regarding what certain things in the specific book mean. I see little to no purpose in making this a career.
I think if you become good at doing this sort of thing persuasively, you could do well as a lawyer. But there are probably more direct ways to sharpen that skill set.
WannabeNewton
#76
Feb18-13, 05:46 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,450
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
That doesn't address my points, just reiterates your dismissal. You're also being entirely too narrow with literature, it doesn't really matter what an author intended but what can be drawn from the story. For example it doesn't matter if author X didn't intend for their book to be homophobic but if it includes cultural behaviours that are homophobic or encourage a heteronormative worldview then there is merit in analysing those themes for broader discussin. Media is after all a reflection of the culture that produces it and I don't see how you can dismiss the exploration of culture through media. To trivialise literary criticism as you are doing is a massive oversimplification.
I'm not saying any of this is useless; go nuts when your friends come over for some evening tea and discuss / debate like there is no tomorrow. Can you give me any merit in pursuing entire PhD studies in this? What worth does it have? If you want a selective, scholarly audience that debates these things in their own arena then fine all the power to them. If you want to effect a grand paradigm shift in the cultural norms then how effective is that same methodology? How would you have such ideas disseminate?
WannabeNewton
#77
Feb18-13, 06:01 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,450
Quote Quote by jbunniii View Post
I think if you become good at doing this sort of thing persuasively, you could do well as a lawyer. But there are probably more direct ways to sharpen that skill set.
That is certainly true. It is also true that people may just want to do it for the sake of loving the subject which is great of course. I just want to hear people's reasons for why they would make this into an entire PhD ordeal and then a subsequent career; it has always intrigued me (other than the reason you just gave of course).
FreeMitya
#78
Feb18-13, 06:20 PM
P: 31
They can do whatever their heart desires, just don't force me to do these things in school and college.
Then don't force aspiring humanists to learn maths beyond the bare, everyday essentials. If I remember correctly, in my school, everyday-life maths was only available in grade eleven. Do you see the problem with this kind of thinking? It's limiting.

'Let's pick apart this author's book and come up with totally subjective remarks about it that can be bent into sounding way more profound than it was meant to be. Now let's debate over our subjective interpretations of another man/woman's writing!' I find it ridiculous people make this into a PhD venture.
I have a few problems with this. One, I think it promotes shallow thought. How are we supposed to know what's profound or not without thinking deeply about it? Do we have some sort of direct access to the author's mind? Two, you're making debate sound ridiculous. Debate teaches us to form and utter our own thoughts coherently and to process foreign thoughts. I don't see how debate about anything can be considered entirely useless.

As for your final point, the farther one takes a practice, the better one gets at it. Just as in science, you get better as you progress in your study. Given that I believe that the skills acquired in humanistic studies are useful, they would only get better, as the environment provided by graduate school is generally more demanding.

If he/she wants to spend his/her life writing essays about interpretations of other people's works then he/she can do just that; like I said people can pursue whatever it is they love, it doesn't matter to me. But don't tell me this is a job that carries the state of society on its shoulders. You're literally dedicating your studies to looking at writings of others and coming up with extremely subjective remarks regarding what certain things in the specific book mean. I see little to no purpose in making this a career. What you stated would be nice if it could happen; the if's are few and far apart.
First off, I was thinking more of the student becoming a fiction writer than an essayist. Secondly, I call upon the old aphorism "Know thyself". If biology and anthropology are simply too stale a for a person, I see a great deal of use in the knowledge of humanity provided by writers and learning how to enhance the understanding of that wisdom through critical analysis, and good teaching helps to improve those skills. The whole point of creating characters is to represent human character, but I think that goes without saying. Moreover, I think it also goes without saying that knowledge of yourself and those around you is eternally important. Not everybody is smart enough to understand human character the way, say, Shakespeare did, without assistance.
FreeMitya
#79
Feb18-13, 06:32 PM
P: 31
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
That is certainly true. It is also true that people may just want to do it for the sake of loving the subject which is great of course. I just want to hear people's reasons for why they would make this into an entire PhD ordeal and then a subsequent career; it has always intrigued me (other than the reason you just gave of course).
You answered your own question; they love it. Isn't that why people pursue physics as well? I know that's why I do. If I contribute in some way, great, but I primarily want to do something I enjoy. Why would anybody else feel differently?

Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our [Max] Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him.
-Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions.
Tosh5457
#80
Feb18-13, 07:08 PM
P: 239
You're literally dedicating your studies to looking at writings of others and coming up with extremely subjective remarks regarding what certain things in the specific book mean. I see little to no purpose in making this a career. What you stated would be nice if it could happen; the if's are few and far apart.
Thankfully we live in free countries where we can do what we want. Let them do it if they love it. If they can make a living out of it, fine, if they don't, why would you care anyway?
Do you think you only do Science because it's useful? Don't you think there's anything more to it? It's pure bigotry to say that it has no purpose for people to follow something they like.
micromass
#81
Feb18-13, 07:23 PM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,099
Quote Quote by FreeMitya View Post
Then don't force aspiring humanists to learn maths beyond the bare, everyday essentials. If I remember correctly, in my school, everyday-life maths was only available in grade eleven. Do you see the problem with this kind of thinking? It's limiting.
You know what? I completely agree!

Please don't force me to take literary analysis classes that I think are boring and useless (again, this is my opinion only). I don't see the point in literary analysis. I would much rather take a good book and actually read it.

And likewise, if people don't enjoy mathematics (or don't think it's useful), then please don't force them to take mathematics. They should be able to do with their time what they want to.

Of course, very early in the education, there should definitely be math classes, language classes and literature classes. Just to teach the essentials. But once you get in high school, I feel that students should be completely free not to take literary analysis or math classes. It's essentially the choice of the students.
FreeMitya
#82
Feb18-13, 07:53 PM
P: 31
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
You know what? I completely agree!

Please don't force me to take literary analysis classes that I think are boring and useless (again, this is my opinion only). I don't see the point in literary analysis. I would much rather take a good book and actually read it.

And likewise, if people don't enjoy mathematics (or don't think it's useful), then please don't force them to take mathematics. They should be able to do with their time what they want to.

Of course, very early in the education, there should definitely be math classes, language classes and literature classes. Just to teach the essentials. But once you get in high school, I feel that students should be completely free not to take literary analysis or math classes. It's essentially the choice of the students.
I'm actually glad I was forced to take maths. Around the beginning of high school I was still an aspiring professional musician. Had I not been forced to take maths, I wouldn't have discovered how cool it ended up being. Middle school maths wasn't very interesting to say the least. That's why I'm a little conservative regarding some aspects of education.
jbunniii
#83
Feb18-13, 08:11 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
jbunniii's Avatar
P: 3,217
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
Of course, very early in the education, there should definitely be math classes, language classes and literature classes. Just to teach the essentials. But once you get in high school, I feel that students should be completely free not to take literary analysis or math classes. It's essentially the choice of the students.
The world would arguably be much better served if we replaced the current graduation requirements with a single course in personal finance, which students are not allowed to pass until they demonstrate the ability to calculate such things as "how long will it take to pay off a loan with such and such terms, and how much total will I pay?" and to understand basic contracts such as lease agreements. (Incredibly, this doesn't seem to be a graduation requirement in most school districts.)

If you can pass this, you can leave school any time you want. If you reach age 18 and haven't passed, you can leave, but you will not be allowed to sign any contracts or be extended credit until you do.

That will reduce the student population to maybe 20% of its present size (basically the kids who want to go to university), and they can study whatever they like, provided they meet whatever criteria universities wish to impose on incoming students. Education spending could be cut to a fraction of its current level, or we could maintain it and thereby raise per-student spending by a factor of 5, so the students who remain can have a really first-class education.
Jow
#84
Feb18-13, 10:56 PM
P: 67
I don't know if we should introduce a personal finance course. Sure, it will make better citizens, but the western economy exist almost exclusively on people who are irresponsible with their money.
drizzle
#85
Feb19-13, 12:58 AM
PF Gold
drizzle's Avatar
P: 525
High school is where one acquire all essential basic knowledge. Knowing 'fundamentals' is not restricted to one major or another, a student should know the basics of any discipline. This is much more beneficial than just focusing on certain subjects with weak backgrounds on others. However, in college, students can start to 'major' in any field of their choice. Besides, I cannot see how it's not useful, I can barely think of any discipline that does not include statistics/handling data, for example.

In any case, I'm not with leaving the option for students to decide what's fundamental or not--of course I mean science/math/language--except for some subjects which can be chosen based on students' interests.
WannabeNewton
#86
Feb19-13, 02:13 AM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,450
Quote Quote by Jow View Post
I don't know if we should introduce a personal finance course. Sure, it will make better citizens, but the western economy exist almost exclusively on people who are irresponsible with their money.
This is golden. You sir just had a Jon Stewart moment.
Ryan_m_b
#87
Feb19-13, 04:51 AM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,407
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
Like I said, keep it a hobby; people give literary analysis so much credit. 'Let's pick apart this author's book and come up with totally subjective remarks about it that can be bent into sounding way more profound than it was meant to be. Now let's debate over our subjective interpretations of another man/woman's writing!' I find it ridiculous people make this into a PhD venture.
Again you're glibly dismissing and little else. Important fields like queer studies which have contributed to modern LGBT movements were partly born from literary criticism. The reason such subjects are worthy of PhDs is because a PhD is a novel piece of academic work. This is clearly academic so why shouldn't it be a PhD subject?
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
You know what? I completely agree!

Please don't force me to take literary analysis classes that I think are boring and useless (again, this is my opinion only). I don't see the point in literary analysis. I would much rather take a good book and actually read it.

And likewise, if people don't enjoy mathematics (or don't think it's useful), then please don't force them to take mathematics. They should be able to do with their time what they want to.

Of course, very early in the education, there should definitely be math classes, language classes and literature classes. Just to teach the essentials. But once you get in high school, I feel that students should be completely free not to take literary analysis or math classes. It's essentially the choice of the students.
How early? Would you agree that for mandatory schooling (schooling up to 16/18 depending on your country) it's important that students learn a bit of everything?
Quote Quote by jbunniii View Post
The world would arguably be much better served if we replaced the current graduation requirements with a single course in personal finance, which students are not allowed to pass until they demonstrate the ability to calculate such things as "how long will it take to pay off a loan with such and such terms, and how much total will I pay?" and to understand basic contracts such as lease agreements. (Incredibly, this doesn't seem to be a graduation requirement in most school districts.)

If you can pass this, you can leave school any time you want. If you reach age 18 and haven't passed, you can leave, but you will not be allowed to sign any contracts or be extended credit until you do.

That will reduce the student population to maybe 20% of its present size (basically the kids who want to go to university), and they can study whatever they like, provided they meet whatever criteria universities wish to impose on incoming students. Education spending could be cut to a fraction of its current level, or we could maintain it and thereby raise per-student spending by a factor of 5, so the students who remain can have a really first-class education.
Cute idea but I doubt it would work as the ability to make reasoned choices on financial matters requires an understanding of the subject matter as well as the finances involved. Try making a decision on whether or not it's best to spend money on medicine or herbal tea for instance. Also you wouldn't really decrease spending per students because now you have a generation of school leavers who don't really know anything and so to prepare them for either their careers or the qualifications they want to gain you're a going to have to spend a lot of money again. On top of that this negates the advantages of having a population with a broad base of education.
Jimmy Snyder
#88
Feb19-13, 04:56 AM
P: 2,179
Except for a semester of English composition, university should be 4 extended years of vokey.
xxChrisxx
#89
Feb19-13, 05:31 AM
P: 2,044
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
Like I said, keep it a hobby; people give literary analysis so much credit. 'Let's pick apart this author's book and come up with totally subjective remarks about it that can be bent into sounding way more profound than it was meant to be. Now let's debate over our subjective interpretations of another man/woman's writing!' I find it ridiculous people make this into a PhD venture.
If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.
AlephZero
#90
Feb19-13, 07:02 AM
Engineering
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
Thanks
P: 6,967
Most PhD work in science is just as useless as PhD work on literature. How many PhD theses are actually read by anybody, after the approvals committee has signed them?

But that is not a good argument for abolishing science PhDs, or liberal arts PhDs either.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Is computer compulsory for first year engineering student? General Engineering 6
What American English Sounds Like to Non-English Speakers Fun, Photos & Games 3
English as a compulsory subject General Discussion 38
Is clock synchronization compulsory Special & General Relativity 51
Compulsory voting Current Events 7