Okay, so...my students and their parents have heard my philosophical rant a thousand times...but for those of you who haven't been cornered and forced to listen to me, here are the underpinnings of my passion for teaching literature and writing.
So...Why is studying English so important?
-1- Language is everything. (No, really. -- Everything.) It is the outward expression of our inner self. It is connection across time and place. It is how we communicate history, technology, story, opinion, emotion, observation, humor, empathy, love, hate...everything...even math.
While we are all comfortable with the idea that "knowledge is power," the ability to express that knowledge is how we wield that power. Statistics and the marketplace bear this out: employees who are competent communicators and writers are better paid and advance more quickly than their peers.
-2- Literature tells us what it is to be human. From the beginning of recorded stories to the most recently published works, every culture and every era tell the same stories over and over again. When we look thoughtfully and deeply, we see patterns emerge - and gain the understanding that who we are now is not so very distant from who we were thousands of years ago. So, we start at the earliest mythologies and move forward, examining human nature as we progress.
-3- Linear thought is not the only important type of thought; we need linear and non-linear thinking. In English courses, we develop both. We study logic and rhetoric, but we also make 'out of the box' associations. Howard Gardner, the developer of the theory of multiple intelligences, once said, “Vertical thinkers (linear) are experts, and Horizontal Thinkers (non-linear) are visionaries.” Those who develop proficiency in both types of thinking are at a distinct advantage.
Writ Large Learning