Register to reply

Why is English compulsory at school?

by VertexOperator
Tags: compulsory, english, school
Share this thread:
InvalidID
#91
Feb19-13, 07:17 AM
P: 79
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Important fields like queer studies which have contributed to modern LGBT movements were partly born from literary criticism.
Explain further.
micromass
#92
Feb19-13, 07:27 AM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,019
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
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?
I would think that 16/18 is too old to bother them with useless courses (useless = courses that they don't want to take). But I don't want to put an age on it. A better system might be to set some minimal goals of what students should know. These minimal goals will typically involve a bit of everything, but it won't require extensive knowledge.

For example, for mathematics, I would want students to be able to make calculations. I would want them to understand how graphs work, how percentages work, how interest works and how to calculate it. Basically, I would want them to know things which will be useful in their later life and which will enhance their critical thinking skills.

I do not expect students to know things like the Pythagorean theorem. Because if you go on the street and ask random people what it is, then they will likely not know (at least not precisely). However, they can lead a perfect life without knowing it.

Aside from these core classes, I would make sure that students have the ability to choose advanced mathematics classes. In these classes, mathematics would be done like it should be done: rigorous and with proofs. This can actually be done because the students will be interested.

For literature, my basic criteria would be that students are able to read a text critically. That they understand the nuances in the text. I also want them to be able to write good texts themselves.

I do not expect students to sit through classes where they analyse the hell out of poems. I don't think this is a necessary skill to have for adults. Of course, interested students can choose to take the classes.

I'm not going to say that I thought out every aspect of this school system. But I'm just a proponent that students know some core skills about subjects, but that they are entirely free apart from that. And if they think that school is useless and they want to stop, then they are free to do so.

As you can tell, I'm a great fan of democratic education. But I do realize that such a thing can only decently work if the students (and teachers) are motivated to learn and improve themselves. So I'm certainly not going to say it is a perfect system that should apply everywhere. I guess it is simply an education that I would have liked.
phion
#93
Feb19-13, 07:30 AM
PF Gold
phion's Avatar
P: 55
Quote Quote by xxChrisxx View Post
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.
Poetry is a far cry from professional writing. Sure you can diagram a sentence or a stanza, but what's the use when its subjective meaning varies as wind blowing through a field of pollen? Yea, itís pretty, and yea itís effective in its purpose, but our definition of purpose here is a limiting one, with the targeted audience for some ethos, pathos and logos being distinctly separate from the froth of poetry.

I mean, youíre not going to write a haiku to your team when, as a PM, for example, when the goal is to migrate servers or implement an Agile software base, right? Effective writing carries with it the specificity of a well-crafted mathematical solution or proofógood communication is the kinetic energy operating behind the veil of productivity, if you will.

And to respond to your stolen quip with another stolen quip,

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
micromass
#94
Feb19-13, 07:43 AM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,019
Another thing I don't understand is why literature and poetry are held to such a high regard. Those topics are usually taught in high school. But what about music or movies?? Are they not culturally refined enough to discuss in the classroom?

I'm sure Shakespeare is brilliant. But I personally feel more emotional after listening to classic rock or after watching movies such as Lord of the Rings. But somehow, those things never end up being taught in schools. Rather, we are forced to read and analyze poems that we don't really care about.

I guess I'm saying that art is a very relative thing. Students should be taught to appreciate and understand art. If the students think that metal music is art, then so be it. Nobody can say that Shakespeare is better than metal music. Because nobody can make objective statements about art.

So I would want to let the student be more free to explore the art that they want to explore. I don't think that the student should be forced to explore something artistic. I think that is counterproductive.
xxChrisxx
#95
Feb19-13, 09:20 AM
P: 2,043
Quote Quote by phion View Post
Poetry is a far cry from professional writing.
Well done for missing the context of the reference. Which was in itsself a point. Technical proficiency does not make a well rounded individual. It's the humanities and culture that

Literature tends to be a commentary of some sort social, personal, political. Studying it beyond 'that's a nice story' does give an insight into oneself, expressed by the views you have about the subject. The fact that it means different things to different people is the wonderful thing about it. The discussion between two wildly different subjective views on the same peice, IS the interesting part of literature (which was be extended to all media).

Now I'll admit, I'm not a great fan of art, poetry and I only really like simple literature. I do like music. But it's through exploring culture and what it means to you that you broaden your mind and become well rounded. My favourite humanities subject was always history. Not becuase of the objective list of things that happened on certain dates, but the subjective political and social aspects behind those events.
jbunniii
#96
Feb19-13, 12:26 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
jbunniii's Avatar
P: 3,164
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
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.
The average college graduate is no better equipped to answer these questions.
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.
Any time they want to come back and finish their studies, the door is always open. I think this is better than compelling people to sit through school if they don't want to do so. Not everyone needs or wants an education. The majority neither need nor want one, and will never work a day in their life in a job that requires one. And there's nothing wrong with that. But they do need, every last one of them, the ability to understand personal finance and basic contracts. And for some reason, we aren't teaching them this ability. If the 2008 subprime mess taught us nothing else, surely it taught us that.
On top of that this negates the advantages of having a population with a broad base of education.
I don't think we have that now, best efforts of the government and educators notwithstanding. How many adults could take a pop quiz on material covered in high school and come anywhere near passing?
WannabeNewton
#97
Feb19-13, 01:19 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,408
The prevailing argument I see for making literary analysis mandatory starting from primary school is to have a "broad" and "diverse" education. What if I don't care? Secondary education mathematics is pretty vital in order to thrive in an economically functioning society but I can hardly say my knowledge of pointless discussions in English class over Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (a brilliant and thought provoking book which goes without saying) will ever help me in the way I mentioned. This whole idea of a "broad" education is a handicap for people who want to devote more time in high school to mathematics and physics or biology or what have you. What if I don't care about studying the dynamics of culture(s)? I hate the idea of culture all together. I just feel like when it comes to things like art and literature, as micromass said, it is very unfair to make it mandatory for nearly 12 years of education. I'd rather have a detailed analysis of a Kubrick film but for some reason THIS is taboo in classes.
AlephZero
#98
Feb19-13, 02:50 PM
Engineering
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
Thanks
P: 6,926
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
What if I don't care about studying the dynamics of culture(s)? I hate the idea of culture all together.
That one is easy enough to answer. If you want to be an effective scentist/mathematician/engineer, you are going to have to get along with a lot of people who don't share the same cultural values that you learned in your own back yard. (Replace "cultural values" by whatever politically correct terms you prefer, if you hate the idea of "culture".)
WannabeNewton
#99
Feb19-13, 03:06 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,408
I tolerate all cultures, that isn't an issue. I myself have stripped off all cultural associations my parents forced on me and I hate learning about them; I don't need to waste one class period everyday, 5 days a week to know how to tolerate cultures in public. I don't find this a convincing reason to make literature classes mandatory.
micromass
#100
Feb19-13, 03:42 PM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,019
Quote Quote by AlephZero View Post
That one is easy enough to answer. If you want to be an effective scentist/mathematician/engineer, you are going to have to get along with a lot of people who don't share the same cultural values that you learned in your own back yard. (Replace "cultural values" by whatever politically correct terms you prefer, if you hate the idea of "culture".)
I really fail to see how literature courses help you tolerate and other cultures...
Astronuc
#101
Feb19-13, 04:27 PM
Admin
Astronuc's Avatar
P: 21,808
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
I really fail to see how literature courses help you tolerate and other cultures...
I think the expectation is that the literature (fiction) contains stories about characters, their experiences, their behaviors, their thinking, . . . which are often outside one's own experience and culture. Apparently one is supposed to appreciate others who are different and the culture in which they live.

Of course, some people could read said literature and find themselves with a dislike for the characters and culture.
WannabeNewton
#102
Feb19-13, 04:33 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,408
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
Of course, some people could read said literature and find themselves with a dislike for the characters and culture.
I think this is a very good point. I can wholeheartedly say that "A Brave New World", "1984", "Ender's Game", "A Clockwork Orange", "Animal Farm", and "Fahrenheit 451" have greatly impacted my being misanthropic and cynical. Regardless, they are my most favorite non lord of the rings related books ever (especially "A Clockwork Orange" - I love this book so much).
FreeMitya
#103
Feb19-13, 04:36 PM
P: 31
Quote Quote by WannabeNewton View Post
The prevailing argument I see for making literary analysis mandatory starting from primary school is to have a "broad" and "diverse" education. What if I don't care? Secondary education mathematics is pretty vital in order to thrive in an economically functioning society but I can hardly say my knowledge of pointless discussions in English class over Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (a brilliant and thought provoking book which goes without saying) will ever help me in the way I mentioned.
I think there is similar thinking behind forcing a balanced curriculum as there is behind drinking ages, smoking ages, the age of consent, etc., and that is that young people don't necessarily know what's good for them. Being forced to do something may seem barbaric to some, but what if your scientific venture fails, for example, what have you to fall back on? There is a massive gap in your education going all the way back to the beginning of high school if you chose to only study maths and science. That is why the most academic freedom comes in university, when most students are mature enough to make decisions and are generally more intellectually developed.
micromass
#104
Feb19-13, 04:36 PM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,019
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
I think the expectation is that the literature (fiction) contains stories about characters, their experiences, their behaviors, their thinking, . . . which are often outside one's own experience and culture. Apparently one is supposed to appreciate others who are different and the culture in which they live.

Of course, some people could read said literature and find themselves with a dislike for the characters and culture.
OK, but just reading books is enough for that. I still don't see how a literary analysis class accomplishes the goal.
If the goal is to respect cultures, then movies do a great job as well. And so does actually talking to people of a different culture.
WannabeNewton
#105
Feb19-13, 04:38 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,408
Quote Quote by FreeMitya View Post
Being forced to do something may seem barbaric to some, but what if your scientific venture fails, for example, what have you to fall back on? There is a massive gap in your education going all the way back to the beginning of high school if you chose to only study maths and science.
And my ability to write extended essays about literary elements of a novel will rescue me in the event of such failure how exactly....?
micromass
#106
Feb19-13, 04:42 PM
Mentor
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,019
Quote Quote by FreeMitya View Post
I think there is similar thinking behind forcing a balanced curriculum as there is behind drinking ages, smoking ages, the age of consent, etc., and that is that young people don't necessarily know what's good for them. Being forced to do something may seem barbaric to some, but what if your scientific venture fails, for example, what have you to fall back on? There is a massive gap in your education going all the way back to the beginning of high school if you chose to only study maths and science. That is why the most academic freedom comes in university, when most students are mature enough to make decisions and are generally more intellectually developed.
This is the entire point. The government established drinking ages and smoking ages. And what do young people do? Do they even care about those ages? No, they see adults smoking and drinking, and they want to do the same thing. So in fact, I think the entire "no drinking and no smoking" is rather counterproductive.

The same with literature. If you are going to force literature on students (like teaching it in class), then you can expect that most students start hating literature. Certainly if the books you assign are totally not engaging or interesting.
I think the easiest way to ruin the beauty of a subject is to let it being taught in high school...
Astronuc
#107
Feb19-13, 05:27 PM
Admin
Astronuc's Avatar
P: 21,808
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
OK, but just reading books is enough for that. I still don't see how a literary analysis class accomplishes the goal.
If the goal is to respect cultures, then movies do a great job as well. And so does actually talking to people of a different culture.
I think the goal of literary analysis is to learn how an author writes, that is sets the scene, develops the character, develops the plot, reveals the thinking and behavior of the character, . . . .

In theory, reading fiction is about putting oneself in another's shoes and thinking about how one would react in those circumstances.

Otherwise, people read fiction for entertainment/escape. Writers write fiction to earn a living, although some are really good story tellers, and they write primarily to tell stories and influence others. That's perhaps the difference between pulp fiction and classic literature.

I think a couple of the writers for Monty Python majored in English/literature. It worked for them. It worked for Abraham Lincoln, because he communicated with his colleagues and the public with storiers.

On the other hand, I strongly disliked having to read plays, poetry and most fictional prose, because I didn't care for analyzing the symbolism, etc, and I felt I could make better use of my time reading historical non-fiction, and math and science.
Tosh5457
#108
Feb19-13, 05:27 PM
P: 238
As you can tell, I'm a great fan of democratic education. But I do realize that such a thing can only decently work if the students (and teachers) are motivated to learn and improve themselves. So I'm certainly not going to say it is a perfect system that should apply everywhere. I guess it is simply an education that I would have liked.
I agree with you on the other parts, but I don't understand how does that have to do with democratic education? I don't think most students are capable of making good decisions about what they should be educated. One thing that would happen is that schooling would be dumbed down so fast, because most students just want to do the less they can (and I include myself in this one when I was a high school student, but at least I realized the importance of education) and don't really realize the importance of education.


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