Why do I have to learn this?

8 01 2007

It’s a question I encounter far too often, particularly in the Essay Writing Course I teach. It’s taught at a college and most of the students can see the merit in maybe a business writing course or a communication course, but essay writing they just can’t see the sense of.

There’s lots of answers to this question. Most often I go with the way the knowledge can be applied to other situations since they don’t seem to make those connections on there own. I try to avoid the philosophical angle. They just look at you funny.

So my answer to them will remain unchanged, but in my head I’ll be thinking this:

When asked “What do we need to learn this for?” any high-school teacher can confidently answer that, regardless of the subject, the knowledge will come in handy once the student hits middle age and starts working crossword puzzles in order to stave off the terrible loneliness. Because it’s true. Latin, geography, the gods of ancient Greece and Rome: unless you know these things, you’ll be limited to doing the puzzles in People magazine, where the clues read “Movie title, Gone ______ the Wind” and “It holds up your pants.” It’s not such a terrible place to start, but the joy of accomplishment wears off fairly quickly. ~ “21 Down” by David Sedaris

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2 responses

8 01 2007
sulz

many students don’t see the importance of english itself, much less essay-writing. they just think as long as they can get their message across, grammar and appropriate use of words are irrelevant. that’s when presentations become a nightmare! not to mention reading anything written by such students.

8 01 2007
sparrow52

Yes, I know. I personally feel that it has an impact on everything, particularly once they make it into the “real world” (though I might be a bit biased). For every one that comes to see the value and puts the effort into improving there are at least fifteen who don’t.

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