Posted by: Sara Carbone on: January 26, 2012
High school English teachers generally have your childâ€™s best interests in mind. The problem is some teachers and even entire school districts donâ€™t know how to effectively teach reading and writing. Your kid is left to flounder through as best he can until he can flee high school and not look back – until he smacks straight into English Requirement 101 in college. There might be other factors to consider (like a hidden learning difficulty) but here are some likely reasons he is floundering:
1. The book is hard.
The Scarlett Letter, Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby, Shakespeare. Sometimes baffling to the average adult, certain English class texts confuse and frustrate most high school students. They canâ€™t understand some of the language used, let alone the deeper meaning hidden within. Plots are hard to decipher and the dialogue is antiquated, even for the recent texts (Arthur Millerâ€™s The Crucible uses the word covenanted). Your kid is left to guess her way through the book, that is, if she overcomes her despair and actually crack it open. (Note: If your kid doesn’t already use SparkNotes, point her there.)
2. The teacher teaches to the â€śupper 20%â€ť of her class.
Some teachers move too fast through literary texts, whether novel, play or poem. Understanding literature requires a lot of hand holding – slow, careful pulling apart of the plot and detailed analysis of literary elements (themes, symbolism, etc.). This means thorough note-taking and discussion and ample room for questions. However, too many teachers speed through chats about Macbethâ€™s tragic flaws and Thoreauâ€™s views on simplicity. While the few who eat Homer for breakfast nod along with her, large chunks of the class are left trailing somewhere around â€śwhat exactly is transcendentalism?â€ť And some educators are boring, confusing or simply trying to keep up with ambitious curriculum requirements. Sadly, your kid may conclude that anything not written on a Facebook page is irrelevant or that she is â€śnot good at reading.â€ť
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