Is English in school ruining people’s love for writing and reading?

Let’s face it. Typically, students attend school because it’s required by law, not because they would rather wake up early to go learn seven hours of material than stay home and do more productive tasks with the day.

In a Live Science survey about students being bored in school, the number of students who reported thinking the material they are being taught is not interesting is an astounding yet alarming 75 percent. The boring impression of school to a student can most likely come as a given, due to the fact that it’s human nature for one to dislike tasks that aren’t particularly interesting with an individual. For instance, the English subject can sometimes consume time, become tedious, and in some cases, turn into busy-work because of how much writing and reading comes from the subject that students may grow to dislike.

English, like most subjects, has split views on how likeable it is because of the simple statement that not everybody is going to enjoy the same things as their peers, especially when it comes to school. Personally, I have encountered students who have a passion for writing and reading who would like to continue studying English after high school. However I have also students who dislike English and as harsh as it sounds, want nothing to do with it. I don’t believe that students grow a disconnect and a dislike to English because of having to read and write, I believe it’s because of the content assigned to them.

When asked, the most common explanation of why a student doesn’t like English is the desire to pick how they do their work and what their work is about. For instance, if students have to read a book for an assignment, they would most likely rather pick which book they read instead of being forced to read and annotate a book that is handed to them. The same thing goes for writing. Students may much rather prefer writing an essay over what they want, opposed to receiving a specific writing prompt where the creativity is limited.

An example of this being displayed was in my junior year English Composition 1301 class where a student had mentioned wanting to take a creative writing class instead. The student’s reasoning was, desiring to get the opportunity to write what they are passionate about instead of having to stick to the strict essay prompt we had been given on almost every writing assignment we had that year. Near the end of the fall semester, our professor had given us total control over our last essay, a research paper over anything we had wished to talk about. The classmates I had spoken to about this essay of choice concept and what they thought about it in comparison to the other essays was shared agreement of them all enjoying the opportunity.

Another example of students preferring to read and write what they want versus having to follow the set guidelines given by the teacher is book selection. Depending on which English class a student is enrolled in, they’ll typically have to read and analyze a book sometime throughout the year or during the summer. Personally, I dislike this part of the course because the book assigned is usually a book the whole class has heard of before, then when they tell their parents about it, the parent’s response is most likely something along the lines of having read it when they were in school.

While changing the book selection to something fresh and new every, or almost every, year to get students interested may be a hassle, I believe that with doing so, students might not dread having to read a book from the early 2000’s or earlier every year. A discussion I have heard numerous times and agree with throughout having to read books for English is that students want to be able to pick which books they have to read and analyze. After all, if a student is putting in the time and effort for an assignment, the book should be something they are interested in so they are more engaged, making the assignment feel enticing rather than like a chore.

Although getting students to enjoy learning in school, specifically English isn’t necessarily the easiest task to tackle, fortunately there is a number of students who enjoy reading and writing despite the prompts and book assignments being picked for them. Something else to consider is that some students may actually prefer guidelines be put on their school work. The reasoning behind this might be that students don’t have to focus so much about what they’re going to write an essay about or have to find a book of their own choosing, resulting in them wanting it laid out for them. While there are students who like English despite having little to no options about what their work is about and there are students who prefer the assignment guidelines to be picked for them, the students who would rather pick their essay prompt and book selection is likely greater than not.

In conclusion, some things that might contribute to a negative attitude towards English include having strict writing prompts to follow and being forced to read books that aren’t favorable to most students. Students may also feel as if English is placing restrictions on their creativity because of not being able to have the freedom to write and read about topics they prefer in school. Personally, I believe that the abundance of students who feel that school is not interesting is mainly due to the lack of creativity schools allow for students to have throughout their work.