Monday, August 17, 2009

(Unproven) Assertions About Education

1. The goal of any class is reading.

In fact, let me say that classes and teachers are greatly overrated. The retention of any subject matter taught in class is minimal. A student's curiosity is far more valuable when combined with an interest in reading about something.

2. Reading "trash" literature is a good thing.

Some English teachers will easily dismiss a lot of targeted pop-fiction as crappy literature. It probably is. However, young students who read things like the Sweet Valley High are more likely to read better things later. These students will also have better grammar and composition abilities. A student who eats up pop-fiction, and even manga/graphic, type literature is learning more than most students ever will in an English class.

3. Narrow reading is the best.

I define "narrow" reading as reading practices, that more or less, stick to a particular topic. For example, in high school I read everything I could find/ afford on Christian apologetics. I read Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Norm Geisler, etc. I did not hate reading the novels my English class was reading, but it was not my raison d'etre. I had motivation to read, which exposed me to a lot of vocabulary and a lot of abstract, higher thinking. That foundation in reading apologetics lead me eventually to read much more interesting things.

4. Textbooks are unnecessary.

In a world where libraries and the internet are great resources, textbooks are a 19th century idea. Sure, they make things convenient, but are they the best arrangement to educate students? A syllabus designed to give students time to explore literature of her own interests, mixed with some insight from classics is a better way.

Also, there are serious questions to be rasied about the politics of textbooks, and how content is chosen for those books. Should we blindly follow what a business has decided to include in order to please large state curriculum directors?

5. Grammar-focused syllabuses will fail.

I do not believe teaching grammar improves student output. I believe teaching grammar is an exercise in langugae appreciation. Don't get me wrong, language appreciation is an important thing, and I believe grammar must be reviewed. Yet, grammar teaching is not the best way to teach good writing. Good writing comes from a flood of reading, and a touch of organization. Read more (interesting things), teach basic writing strategies, and students will write more.


  1. Can I hire you to teach first-year Comp.? I concur. I'd even go as far as to say that many of these ARE, in fact, proven... or at least strongly backed by research in the composition/rhetoric field.


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2 Ages Verging by Ryan Cordle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.