The Horrors of High School English

For some reason I cannot explain I have become haunted by the ghosts of English classrooms past. I keep returning in my dreams to bad high school classrooms, once again sitting through a badly organized discussion on a book by a lecturer that couldn’t care less.  The only difference is that in the dream I am now in my thirties, no longer that bright and complaining 17-year old, now my disillusioned older dude self… Oh, and the end of my pants are still rolled up, because that is what you did in 1991 when you wanted to be cool. And frankly, I needed all the help I could get.

Being cool, I mean.

I have always loved books, it is a running theme in my life, but it seemed like as a public school student whenever I was in an environment that should’ve created—I don’t know—a “cocoon of support” let’s say, I was an outsider, with even the teacher wondering what is wrong with this kid. There was no cocoon! If anything it gave others ammunition to ask what is wrong with me? You like this!? Really!? This stuff!?

The fact is that my experience in high school English created in me somewhat a feeling of isolation. Yes, other students got good grades in English classes, but I never felt like they got “it” like I did. They read the assigned Charles Dickens, did they spend the last summer reading six other books by him? No, probably not. I felt like screaming, “These are great stories! Isn’t this better than that crappy Stephen King in your locker?” Continue reading