Long Live English Literature…

Earlier today I read this article from the Guardian that a friend (actually one of my English teachers from school) posted and it has been playing on my mind ever since.

Looking back I can’t even imagine what my feelings about school would have been without English Lit and Drama involved. I did well in all my core subjects – my only grade below a B in all my GCSEs was a C in Resistant Materials Technology – but I put down at least some of that to success to the other subjects – Res Mat included.

They broke it all up. They eased the fear of learning rules and formulae and whatnot by giving me subjects I could get passionate about. I mean, I got passionate about science, don’t get me wrong, but that was a passion for facts which is not the same as discovering a passion for other people’s words in books or a passion for the freedom of expression in Drama or a passion for getting down and dirty with the woodglue in Res Mat and learning how to make (and break) things for myself.

They might not be subjects you can be entirely right or wrong in, but they teach you things about having opinions and backing them up and they teach you how to see things from other people’s point of view. They let you express yourself and Drama in particular taught me how to have confidence in the face of stressful situations – not something you can glean from learning your Circle Theorems. (What are Circle Theorems anyway? I gave up multiple lunchtimes to have one-to-one sessions about them and I still haven’t got a clue…)

I am not belittling maths or science or anything else, I just don’t think that learning subjects that need to be done by rote for exams prepares you for the real world. You need to be able to know and speak your own mind, to justify your opinions, make your own decisions and stand your ground when someone challenges you, know that sometimes you have to look at something in another way to work out how someone else might view it – these are all basic skills that everyone needs in life to get through. They make you a more rounded person, a nicer person with a balanced approach to life.

Being able to pass your exams is nice, and a good understanding of Maths, Science, English Language and the other core subjects are very important, but they aren’t everything you need.

I seriously hope that this decision does not come to pass, and if it does, that it is revoked before Tori & Arthur make it to secondary education otherwise I am going to have to find some way of making sure they get a healthy dose of all these other subjects somehow.

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