End of the Reading Rainbow

End of the Reading Rainbow

We shouldn’t hate English books, just how we learn them.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that being forced to read something changes your opinion on it. I went through sophomore year’s Independent Reading project. For my project, I picked a handful of science fiction books and quite enjoyed them. I watched a many of my classmates shuffle through the assignment with a venom against the books they chose just the same as the ones they were forced to read.

Some people just have a problem with reading. I do my best to enter any given book, all joking that I do aside, with an open mind, to enjoy it. I read some of my favorite things in English classes, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Gatsby and Brave New World. Personally, I find reading for a class to be great.

Then comes the test. Asking me to identify an essay’s use of ethos and define why it’s effective, or forcing me to search out Mr. Darcy’s confession of love and identifying the parallel sentence structure. That sort of analysis is the pit of actual discussion. Confusing the vehicles the story uses for making a point is why we can’t stand these assignments .

Some of my favorite classes have been English classes, specifically my junior English class. The teacher administered a quote test once. After that, the decision was made that testing over the book would take place in the form of constant discussions. With a class that analyzed the book to as deep of a level as I did and that wasn’t afraid to talk about it, I was overjoyed to enter my third hour every day. Even if I was reading something I couldn’t stand, like My Antonia.

A good class needs to combine the discussion aspect with the learning aspect. To discuss the metaphors so we talk about why they were put there, not just identifying that they exist. To drink in the book rather than dissect it. When you read a book for fun, you’re not marking it up so that you can identify every given use of apostrophe, you’re reading it to better yourself.

An English class has never been, for me, a place where I learned how to speak or write. It’s been a class where I’ve understood myself and my fellow man on a deeper level. It’s been a class where I got to sit down with other people and just talk about Raskolnikov’s guilt, using a book and the input of my peers to become a better person. The problem isn’t the fact that we’re forced to read books, it’s that we’re forced to read books in a certain way, and that is what needs to stop.