Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Yet Another Reason to Hate Your English Teachers

I hated school.

But I loathed my English teachers.

They were boring, completely unengaging, but the primary reason I loathed them was that they were inconsistent.  I could always ace my math classes, but nope, not English.

I didn't diagram the sentence correctly.

I forgot what the dangling participle was.

I used "their" when it should have been "there."

Forgot my last name.

Or I just didn't write "good."

It seemed to me they would do it on purpose, some of them favoring girls over boys, and while I could never prove either, in my core of cores I knew they were at least unfair and dishonest people.

Of course, as I've gotten older I've realized them for what they were - the laziest of the lazy of education majors.  Primarily women who didn't give a rip about children or have a passion for literature, as much as they did a selfish and lazy ego that only wanted an easy job and the "faux" sense they were actually professionals at something.

Oh sure, that may sound harsh, but it's true.  They were hacks.  They were frauds.  There wasn't one English teacher that inspired anybody in my school to read, and had no problems holding 30 kids at a time hostage for 8 hours a day for 13 years all so they could get a pension for 75% work.  And for that I will today and into forever expose, rip apart, and humiliate English teachers for the vermin they are.

I'll point out a kid who flunked out of 7th grade English has more fame as an author than they ever did.
I'll point out they could only read what they could never write.
I'll point out they never "changed the lives" of a single student.
I'll point out the entire professional life they dedicated themselves to in literature only got their pictures in yearbooks and that is the ONLY piece of memorable "literature" the universe will ever remember them for.

But it came to my attention quite recently of another crime they committed.  I couldn't believe it because of just what a bad taste they left in my mouth, but they still managed to get one last sting in.

They ruined reading and literature for me and hundreds of millions of people.

I always thought I hated reading.  It was inefficient, it was boring, there was plenty of other things to do.  The ONLY books I ever read were the "High King" pentalogy by Lloyd Alexander.  Ever since then the only books I ever read were textbooks or terabytes of economic reports.  In the meantime, for the past 30 years, I'd rather eat chalk than read.

But then something funny happened after I finished Bachelor Pad Economics.  With the new-found free time I didn't go on a video game playing binge like I promised I would.  I didn't go and watch the entire Charlie Brown cartoon series.  And I didn't watch all the spaghetti westerns I said I was going to watch.

No, I kept going back and reading blogs, and even reading books people had sent me.  And it literally hit me last week.

Shit, I like reading.

Not the crap they tried to force down my throat in the 80's.
Not the crap my liberal arts prereq profs made me trudge through.

But if I was given a choice in following my interests and reading what I wanted, reading was actually quite enjoyable.  So enjoyable that I got more mental stimulation from reading than playing Battlefield Bad Company.  This then behooved the question, what did I miss out on?  What other books or authors would I have thoroughly enjoyed?  Not that I didn't enjoy playing the Final Fantasy series or hiking mountains, but if I was allowed to read what I wanted I could at least understand what Aurini and Molyneux were saying half the time!

So touche, English teachers.  Touche.  You made life miserable for millions of children.  Probably scarred a couple young boys along the way.  Unnecessarily cost us some GPA points.  And your coup d' etat was ruining literature for us well into our adult lives.  But once no longer in the education system and under your auspices, we will slowly and surely wake up and realize reading doesn't have to be the pain you made it be.  And while in a vengeful way I'd love to look you guys up to see if you've ever amounted to anything in the literary world, unfortunately I can't remember your names.  You were like all other English teachers - immemorable and unnoteworthy. 


RobertW said...

I had a similar experience - I didn't enjoy reading until I finished with school and could actually read what I wanted. First thing I did was tackle Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Which proved to me I wasn't the unmotivated space cadet the got me believing I was. If you have time on your hands and want pure reading pleasure give "War and Peace" a shot.

heresolong said...

Gonna pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged now?

Eric Mueller said...

I don't remember ever not loving reading. Fortunately I developed that love independently of school. Most of the books I had to read in school were crap, but I've always read on my own.

You're right that most English teachers suck. In 8th grade, I had the same teacher for both English and history. I failed both. I had to talk my mom into paying for summer school (where I had a much better teacher) so I didn't have to stay in the suck ass middle school another year.

Heroditus Huxley said...

Like with women, not all English teachers are like that. I teach freshman composition, and I do not teach like that. I don't teach sentence level mechanics, I focus on teaching how to assemble sentences into paragraphs, and assemble paragraphs into a cohesive whole.

Were I to teach literature, I'd teach it as a connection to, and building block of, our current culture...but as an adjunct, I'm not permitted to teach literature. We can't show up the tenured twits who only teach their pet literary theory, after all.

Pilgrim of the East said...

Larry Correia (bestselling fantasy novelist and judging from some posts also Vox Day's friend) wrote great article on people being forced to read shitty stuff in schools just because some people think it's "high" literature, while if they could read what is considered pulp, they would love reading - http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/correia-on-the-classics/

Stephanie said...

I hated reading in school, however, I still read many books. More in High School than in anytime in my life, so far.

In school they chose the most boring material. I was even put into a "special readers" class when I was in middle school because I refused to read what everyone else was reading.

Even though by middle school I was reading the works of beat writers, beat poets, and classic literature. When I was ten I had found one of those lists of ban books online. I read nearly every book on the list. My school even told my mother what I was reading was inappropriate. My mother told them to mind their own business.

Captain Capitalism said...


Naw, they turned it into a movie. I'll get it from that! ;)


Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I had some great English teachers at school, very intelligent, very inspiring gentlemen. One of them put me on the road to Red Pill wisdom way before there was Red Pill.

Of course, I went to prep school in England where English was still the native language and where people took pride in speaking and writing well. The American experience, I think, is a little different.

Give me an eccentric, inspiring English teacher over a boring math/science nerd any day.

Anonymous said...

3:40 AM? Battling insomnia there, Cap?

Kristophr said...

People learn to like reading in spite of English "teachers".

Every person you know who likes reading, with few exceptions, got started on books in their parents house long before public education tried to force boring crap on them.

The only exception I know of personally is George Hill's ( of madogre.com ) son. I suggested to George that he hand the kid a copy of Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International, and tell him he would let him ditch the book if he read the first page.

That hooked the brat good and proper ...

( and for god's sake don't start on Atlas Shrugged or War and Peace ... Russian authors must all cut themselves at night ... )

Apollo said...

I was a big reader before I hit high school English classes. Good thing too, because if that had been my intro to reading, I never would have got into it. I loved reading, and got fantastic grades, but that class was pure torture. Awful choice of literature, and awful exercises based on that literature.

I agree with what you've said here.

Anonymous said...

Hated the tar out of English class. Until I was allowed to take AP classes and escape the brain dead idiots of the normal classes and start reading actually good books.

Southern Man said...

Beg to differ. One of my high school English teachers had real passion for literature and imparted to me a love for Shakespeare that lasts to this day. Another went far beyond the text in teaching us to diagram, a skill that I still use to day; it appears that it is no longer taught.

And then there was my eleventh grade English teacher who gave us all assessment tests, then reseated us. My friends and I were all over on one side. She told us "I'll give you your assignments; work on them quietly and turn them in on the due date. When you're not busy you can do whatever you want, quietly. I have to teach the rest of the class how to read."

James Wolfe said...

I have always loved reading. Not the crap that I was told to read, like Wuthering Heights and other dreadful "classics". In elementary school I was reading stuff like The Birds by Hitchcock and Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven. In junior high I was reading Fahrenheit 451 and anything by Asimov or Clarke. In High School the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. In college the Hitchhiker's Guide and The Stainless Steel Rat. Now I read lots of Dean Koontz and Sci-Fi books dealing with technology, like Ready Player One, The Silo Saga, Reamde, and Daemon and Freedom, or just plain old Sci-Fi like the Star Force Series, the Ender's Series, the Mech Series.

All of these are good for passing the time while enjoying the decline.

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

I agree with Pilgrim, there are some classics that are fantastic, or some that happen to appeal to you, but there is nothing worse than reading 'classics' that you think are garbage. Catcher in the Rye anyone?

JKB said...

Same here. I continued to read, but, I have a physical aversion to "literature". I'd stop by the literature shelf at Walden's, think I should read these, but, knew it was not something I would ever do. I read mysteries, fiction and history instead. It is odd, before I got to high school "literature", I had read Crime and Punishment, even did a book report. But not after, the treatment.

For a good survey of this problem, I recommend Paul Graham's 2004 essay 'The Age of the Essay. Keep in mind the "English Department" is a recent invention. An affliction that didn't even appear at Oxford until
1885. It actually was the new, trendy offering of the more recently formed universities.

Anonymous said...

I guess I was pretty lucky. I had an amazing AP english teacher. She was nice, would sometimes bring tasty french pastries in for the class, and would give reasonable workloads.

A lot of it was boring (moby dick and beowulf were snorefests), but...some of the books were very good. I remember Candide (awesomely funny), Things Fall Apart, Poisonwood Bible, and a few others as being interesting reads that got me engaged.

Sparky said...

It's been over 20 years since I was in high school, and I can still remember the arguments I had with some of my english teachers over my choice of reading material. At the time I was had a new book with me every week. They looked down and frowned upon it (sci-fi & fantasy). I would get comments from them about how low-brow my choice of books were, until such time as they were told "I've lent the following books to people x, y and z who told me prior that they hated reading. Since then, they now tell me that they have discovered that reading can be enjoyable! What have you and your books accomplished?" That always shut them up good and put them in their place. :)

General P. Malaise said...

hey was this a subliminal dis of the greatobambi?

he had published, (only writing conclusively artibuted to him) was the poem about his uncle.

Unknown said...

There seem to be no poor students here, only bad teachers. Similarly, I've never seen a failed employee, just bad bosses.

JS Mill said...


I mean, I've never had an English teacher that really inspired me, though I've had some decent ones along the way. Mostly I read what I wanted to read, and generally took as few English classes as I could get away with.

I'm trying to imagine a world where a teacher could actually dis-inspire me regarding a subject. Then again, I always viewed school as some sort of special hell for children that had very little to do with learning and everything to do with enforcing tedium on my otherwise interesting and fulfilling life.

Dave said...

I suggest checking out The Stars My Destination. Pretentious title, but the book is nothing of the sort. I'm still only 3/4 through, but I'd recommend it at this point.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm one of the few lucky ones. I had three great English teachers in twelve years who I still appreciate to this day, 35 years later. One of them even got me to like Shakespeare.

I should point out that I went to a very small, conservative private school, so I think that was the difference.

WillieMaize24 said...

One of my H.S. English teachers was very good. Another one was terrible. The rest were somewhere in between. We read Orwell, which was great, but we also had to read David Copperfield,and Great Expectations and that turned me off to the classics for years. Most of the guys I know hated those books

Years later someone recommended Tom Jones. I started reading it and was hooked. I just wish they would have had us read that in high school.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the more "classic" works are by definition elitist. They're written by writers for writers, not for the general public to consume and that's why the material usually isn't very accessible. Universal literacy is a pretty recent phenomenon.

It reminds me of the verbosity that's usually used in the soft "sciences", using complex phrase structure and obscure wording to obscure the fact that only a rather simple point is made. An example by way of Richard Feynman: "The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels." - People read.

Just because something sounds complicated or smart doesn't mean it is.

Out of this is born the kind of hipster elitism that everything that's popular must be bad. A thoroughly undemocratic notion.

Anonymous said...

Sword of Truth series by Goodkind explored some very interesting human psych foibles...

First book is 'Sword of Truth'.

Anonymous said...

>> I have to teach the rest of the class how to read."

Reminds me of Dr. Feynman's bio. His math teacher in high school gave him a special book on advanced calculus, and told him to study it, and leave the class alone, because he had to teach them math. This book gave an alternate way to solve calculus equations, which helped Feynman win the Nobel.

In 1960, my high school class had to read Silas Marner, which apparently meant a lot to our English teacher. So, I skipped the last year of English. I read the story, but on my own and it meant nothing to me at all. Until I was in my 40's, and loved it. Literature has to be relevant to a person's life experiences.

Anonymous age 71

Vader999 said...

Funny thing is, I learned a lot about reading as a kid by reading strategy guides for Starcraft than by reading any other novel. These books bored me to death. The strategy guides engaged me and forced me to learn advanced vocabulary.

That's why Prima Games is owed a Literature award for making reading fun for kids.

Liv Fallon said...

I totally agree with Robert W, in a way. Our teacher assigned us books I hated! I would skim them or read the sparknotes version. I didn't bother reading them at home if I had to-I read Harry Potter or LOTR instead. I read the books that I want to read. I don't read a book if it is forced on me. If someone says-here, read to page 80 by tomorrow, I'll just take out a dog-eared copy of my favorite book and read that instead.

Liv Fallon said...

I totally agree with Robert W, in a way. Our teacher assigned us books I hated! I would skim them or read the sparknotes version. I didn't bother reading them at home if I had to-I read Harry Potter or LOTR instead. I read the books that I want to read. I don't read a book if it is forced on me. If someone says-here, read to page 80 by tomorrow, I'll just take out a dog-eared copy of my favorite book and read that instead.