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Why does school and English class matter?

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Alex Baick

on 30 July 2013

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Transcript of Why does school and English class matter?

Why does any of this even matter?
"Why does English class or school matter?" Quickwrite Introduction
We need to start off this class by asking ourselves this question. Why? We need to discuss it because motivation IS the doorway to success. Without fully understanding the importance of English class and school, you will inevitably burn out and give up (it's guaranteed). Motivation, after all, determines what kind of attitude, determination, and actions you will have since it is the "why" behind what you do. Negative motivation ("I'm just trying to get this over with") will drag you down quickly and you will end up wasting your time.

"Why does school and English class matter?" Quickwrite Prompt
On a piece of paper, answer the following questions with specific and detailed answers. Be ready to share our your responses to the class.

1) In your opinion, do you think high school even matters in the long run? Why or why not?
2) Do you honestly think anything you learn in my English class is going to be useful to your life in any way? Why or why not?
3) What does it mean when people say, "Knowledge is power"?
4) What is your life's dream? What life, career, personal, etc. goal do you have?
5) What was the motivation behind that dream or goal? How do you plan on accomplishing that goal?
6) Would it bother you if people took advantage of you without you realizing it? What if your future coworkers don't respect or think highly of you? Would these things bother you? WHY OR WHY NOT?
So here are my top 6 reasons why school and English class matters.
Reason #1:
You're right in thinking that you will probably not need to write a research paper, do quadratic formulas, or give a presentation on the War of 1812 in your future job. Here's a perspective change: school assignments were NEVER about mimicking what you will doing in the "real world." (Wait what?) The reason you do assignments, essays, tests, quizzes, and so on is because we are trying to train you on the LIFE SKILLS you are going to need.

For example, when you don't understand how to do something for your job (whether you're a fireman, cosmetologist, restaurant owner, gardener, etc.), you look it up on your Smartphone right? Well that's a research assignment skill. Pose a question, look for the answers somewhere (also double check the accuracy of info with different sources), and apply that knowledge to solving your current problem. Yes, experience can teach you things too, but some lessons are a bit too dangerous, painful, or costly to learn.
Another example:
Essay writing:
-Back up what you say
-Come up with ideas and organize them
-Think about all angles before saying your argument
-Present ideas in a way to win your audience over.

These skills are needed for: job interviews, working with difficult colleagues, winning peaceful arguments with loved ones, negotiating successful business deals, impressing your boss or coworkers, working out a problem with customers, and so on. Essay writing skills teach you ways to convince people to listen and obey you without having to get violent, angry, etc. If you can't express yourself clearly, no one is going to follow, respect, or listen to you.
Reason #2: Your future job will require English writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. Even the simplest skill (such as following directions) is REQUIRED by your job. No matter what career field you pursue, I guarantee you will have to use English class skills. Here are some examples:
1. You will need to be able to write a resume, fill out a job application, and create a letter of introduction. (English class: reading, grammar and spelling, business letter writing)

2. Do a job interview. (English class: listening and presentation skills)

3. Do some research for a project, job, or problem you run across with a client or boss.

4. Read an employee manual, instructional handbook, contracts, emails, law codes, rules and conducts, etc. (English class: critical thinking and careful reading techniques).

5. Be organized and creative. Innovation leads to a business' success, so you need to think outside the box. (English skill: brainstorming, outlining, research, creative writing, etc.)

6. Apply what you learn by giving a presentation at a meeting, creating a work sample for your job, programming a computer application, writing it up in a report summary, etc. (English skill: research, essay writing, presentation, critical thinking, etc.
Reason #3: Street cred.
In high school, the mentality of, "I don't care what people think about me" is acceptable. In the real world, it is impossible to be a loner and be successful at the same time. Jobs are built around cooperative systems (i.e. group projects, partner discussions, etc.). Your reputation in society directly affects what opportunities or restrictions are placed in the way of your dreams and goals. The more respect and connections you get, the more opportunities are opened. Guess what kick starts your reputation in the workforce? Your high school/college diploma! Let's try an experiment:
Person A: Tyler
-Resume contains numerous mistakes:
+Name spelled: "Tiler"
+Nothing is capitalized.
+No periods or commas, so it's hard to read any of
the information.
+Response to question "What do you expect to
get out of working with our company?": "Money"
-Resume printed on neon green paper with a picture of him wearing a baseball cap.
-Email on resume is: koolhomeboi20@gmail.com
-Comes into interview 10 minutes late.
-Clothes are wrinkled. Pants and shirt are slightly baggy. Wears tennis shoes.
-At interview, most of his responses are, "Uhm...yeah", "not sure", "kinda", "I don't know", "well you see", "sorta", and "maybe."
If you were the boss interviewing this man, would you honestly hire him? Probably not.

In the "real world" you only have FIRST IMPRESSIONS. There simply isn't enough time or resources for people to go out and "get to know the real you." Like poker players, people rely on "clues" to get to know you. Every little thing you say or do reflects something honest about you. An educated appearance can really bolster your impression with others.
Tyler's spelling and grammar mistakes showed his lack of double checking (worrying if he is handling my business money) and concern or effort in his work (he is untrustworthy because he makes careless mistakes). It makes him appear incompetent as he should have known such basic rules in high school (makes me wonder what else he doesn't know). His picture, email, and attire shows he doesn't know the rules of professional or formal workplaces (which can cause a bad reputation if he's my worker). His responses at the interview use vague, simple, weak, and casual wording (signals of an inability to be knowledgeable or exact with his explanation, which is bad for my customers).
This analytical breakdown is EXACTLY what your bosses are going to do to you. There is money on the line after all. See what limitations are now placed in Tyler's life because of this negative impression?
Reason #4: Literature (reading and writing) is an intricate part of our culture.

1) Popular culture is embedded with literary references. To get a lot of the jokes, you have to know where it came from.
2) Society expects a certain amount of mastery in English literary and writing skills. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if you had no clue who Shakespeare is.
3) Entertainment is completely centered on English literature. Where do you think your music, movies, TV shows, comic books, etc. get their inspiration from?
4) Literature is the closest thing to a time machine. It is a record of our past (which let us know how we have the present.
Also, literature can be prophetic! Did you know that Mark Twain was the first to think of the Internet? He wrote a story in 1898 called, "From the London Times of 1904", which described a "telectroscope" - an "...improved 'limitless-distance' telephone was introduced, and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues." Great since the Internet didn't come out until 1969 (that's 71 years later).

Just as a scary thought, all of you are living in George Orwell's "1984" society.
Reason #5: Studying English literature will allow you a much more well-rounded understanding of what makes us human. Characters in stories are a clear window into the horrifying or inspiring nature of humankind. Stories also contain crucial themes that we should never forget (i.e. what can happen when people judge by appearance rather than what's inside).
Reason #6: Knowledge IS power.
Some say, ignorance is bliss (true, since you won't miss what you don't know). But this ignorance comes with a price:
1) It allows opportunities for more aware people to take advantage of you.
2) Ignorance is bliss creates a tunnel vision and experience of the world. There is so many interesting, cool, and beautiful things that you will skip out on (this may lead you to unfairly label the world as: uninteresting, small, valueless, etc.).
3) Being educated is true power. It allows you to DO something about the problems in the world. As I pointed out before, people with knowledge (i.e. teachers) wield enormous influence with people around them. Be a leader, not a smug follower.
Consider this. You probably trust that your teacher is quite knowledgeable in their respective subject. Thus, you rely on them to teach you the information from the class in an accurate manner. You trust them because they KNOW more than you about what you're studying (and they didn't have to ask for that trust). It is that trust you have in them which allows them the authority to either build you up by teaching you properly OR sabotage you by purposefully teaching you wrongly.

Education allows you to be eye-to-eye with everyone around you in the world. Ignorance makes you apt for manipulation (history proves this over and over).
Well I hope I've convinced you that all this DOES matter.

Lastly, consider this:
High school is forgettable in the long run. Money, fashion, friends, video game achievements, popularity, etc. will fade but the consequences of your choices won't (butterfly effect). Who you choose to be now will echo forever down the line. YOU have to make the right choices because no one else is going to.
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