David Cook (davidcook) wrote,
David Cook

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High school English ...

(this is another one of those posts that I've been meaning to make for ages, but it's never quite crystallised)

As I remember it, it seemed that there was a big leap made sometime in English (as taught at my particular high school, 20-ish years ago).
In the first year or two, for homework and tests we did a little bit of writing, a tiny amount of grammar, but mostly (as I recall it) questions based around "reading comprehension" - i.e. reading a short passage and answering questions on it.

After that, though, we suddenly leapt to "Compare and contrast the themes in any two of the following four novels that we've read this year". Again, this is all as I recall it, and maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but I don't remember being instructed on how we were supposed to do this, or even how to approach it. I didn't have the tools, so I couldn't even begin to tackle the problem. Strangely, I then wasn't very good at dealing with this sort of thing in the exams, and so, having scraped a pass in Year 11 English, avoided Year 12 English and anything English-like at Uni.

My question is - was this just me ? Or was this something particular to my age group, or my school (not an academic high-flying type), or some educational dogma running around at the time ?

As I said, I've been thinking about this post for a while, but was triggered to actually post it by matociquala writing at length about the different points of view that writers can use, as "discussed with greater or lesser effect in most high school English classes". You see, I don't recall ever discussing points of view, and certainly not in any depth. We barely discussed grammar, for that matter - maybe we were supposed to pick up a language for that ?

Of course, there's another layer to this - I firmly believe that I can retrospectively diagnose the high school me as having Asperger's Syndrome - thus leading me to be more literal-minded than most, so that when discussion goes off into metaphors and themes and yes, even sub-texts, to me it all falls into the "you're just making shitstuff up" category.

(and why don't I believe I have Asperger's now ? Well, I still fall right on the borderline every time I do any of the AS tests that run around the net - I am, as they call it, "high-functioning", and can pass for mostly normal. Would being diagnosed at 15 or 12 or earlier have made a difference ? Well, maybe not, but it might have helped me make sense of some aspects of life, and if there was some decent support available (specific training in social skills, maybe some work on coordination, I'm sure they have some other clever things these days), maybe those years would have been a bit easier).

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