English Electives Have Place In Curriculum

What career do you want to go into? What skills do you think you need to do well there?

Writing specifically— will you need to write essays, letters, emails, proposals?

Do you think your English classes are preparing you for that?

I think there is an enormous benefit to being able to choose what English classes you need.

While core classes help students meet requirements, electives give students the chance to enjoy reading and writing about things they enjoy.

Frank Hauser, Assistant Principal for Curriculum says that he sees benefits to both electives and a core class. A core class makes sure that all students get the skills that the curriculum requires. Electives give the student the chance to specialize in something they are interested in.

When asked about making a choice about what English class to take, Hauser said, “I put back to the student, what is going to inspire the student? What is it that’s going to drive them to work harder and to develop that passion for learning or just that ability to be able to think more critically about text or about their writing and be able to step back. If we can get a student to do that, it going to help them and benefit them wherever they go.”

While core classes make sure that all students meet the same standards when they graduate, they leave out skills that many students need, like emails and other basic communication.

In addition, the books we are expected to read in English classes are not ones that most students find interesting. If it is so important for students to enjoy reading, then school should encourage them to find interesting subjects to read about, and to become inspired by.

Essay writing is important for analytical skills and for passing tests, but there is too much focus on essays and classical literature, and not enough on the English we use every day.

Marcus Reese, who teaches both Honors English II and Technical Writing, sees the benefits of required uniform English classes, but supports electives for seniors.

Reese said about uniform English classes, “Overall it’s easier to schedule, you just find a time when you need to take the one class available, and its available multiple hours, so everybody takes it. So, I think that’s the real benefit.”

He also said that it helps the administrators because it gives them control over knowing exactly what students have learned. It can also be cheaper to offer only one class, and in the current climate, that is beneficial.

However, Reese says, it is okay for different schools and classes to offer different experiences, because the main point of many of the classes is to prepare for college, and colleges all have very different experiences.

“I think in the end, students lose when they try and make a one-size fits-all… I think the idea of choice, the idea of ownership all really matter. I think that you can still have standards within the electives. So yeah, I am a big supporter of electives, and I think it’s the right way to go,” Reese said.

I took Technical Writing last semester, and it was one of the best classes I have ever taken.

Technical Writing is not just for engineering— it is for any field with a technical format, including engineering, medicine, manufacturing and any science.

It is incredibly useful in everyday life as well. Technical Writing teaches how to both read and write documents that everyone uses, such as emails, instruction manuals, outlines and other forms of necessary but often complicated paperwork.

Unfortunately, this is the last year that Technical Writing is offered at Dimond.

However, Technical Writing is not the only interesting elective for English.

Journalism, Teen Issues in Literature, Film as Literature, Contemporary Literature, Humanities, World Mythology and Sports and Mystery Literature are all classes that Dimond currently offers for English credit.

In the past, Dimond has also offered Science Fiction.

Dimond Junior Christopher Chung, who is currently in AP Language and Composition and plans to take AP Literature next year for the college credit, said, “[a core class] gives everyone the same curriculum, same material, rather than an elective that gives you specialized skill in whatever it’s teaching. If you see the benefits in learning a specialized skill from an elective, then I say go for it.”

Education should be about the abilities that students will require in the real world, not how to pass a test.