Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I was walking my dogs the other day and the neighbor kid came out to tell me he was burning his English papers.

I think he told me this to shock me (I wasn't shocked) but he was also pretty keyed up because HE WAS BURNING HIS ENGLISH PAPERS. According to other friends' posts on Facebook, this is A THING.

Over the top? A little. But what's more alarming is the fact that these students think that just because their English GCSE is behind them that they're never going to have to write a paper again. Should I be the one to tell them? Can I?

(Some background for any non-Brits reading here. Basically, GCSEs are standardized tests that students in Years 10-11 (mostly Year 11) take across several subjects of their choosing in core subjects like maths, English (both English language and English literature), Science (a minimum of 2 exams), at least one language, History and Geography. Students may also opt to take additional exams in PE, ICT, Art, Design Technology, etc. Depending on GCSE results - and interest - students can then pick subjects to study for A levels, which then determine what they're going to study in university.)

In other words, if you don't choose to study English at A-level, you may (mistakenly) think your essay-writing days are behind you. MY OWN KID THOUGHT THIS. Granted, he's only finishing Year 8 and his GCSE's are still a couple of years away, but he was already gleefully looking forward to the day when he won't have to write another essay. Spoiler: he's not anymore.

"I'm going to burn my English papers when I'm done with GCSEs too," he said.

"That's fine. But you like history and you know that if you study history for A-level, you'll still have to write essays?" I asked.

"It's still not an English essay." He smirked a little.

"And science. All of those lab reports. Guess what they are? Essays." My turn to smirk a little.

"Still not English essays." Smirk faded because he really likes science.

"And university applications all require essays."

Smirk turned into a grimace. "Next you're going to tell me I'll be writing essays even if I go into technology."

"You'll be writing emails, which are often a person's first impression of you." I shrugged. "But, you know, they're not English essays."

"Will you stop if I promise not to burn my English papers?" he asked.

"No, you can burn them. It won't make any difference." I laughed because actually, the kid is pretty good at English. "Writing is the gift that keeps on giving, really. Once you learn the core skills, you can carry them over to anything!"

"Yay." The Boy rolled his eyes and left the room. I let him because he's thirteen and eye-rolling is as natural as breathing at the minute. And my point was made.

I'm still waiting to see the neighbor kid again. Rumor has it he's going for science at A-level. I can't wait to talk to him about his lab reports. :)


Carrie Beckort said...

LOL! Ah, kids. Gotta love 'em. Thankfully my daughter likes to write, but she somehow doesn't think grammar and proper punctuation matters unless she's writing a story. I think there should be some sort of business communication class that's offered. I had to tell a new hire once that a business email should not be conducted in the same manner as a text. She looked at me as though I had lost my mind.

Brenda St John Brown said...

I used to teach college English to incoming freshman as part of their core liberal arts requirement. So many of them told me that they just wanted to fulfill their core requirement and they'd never be using English again, which made me CRAZY!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Brenda this is hysterical, I especially loved eavesdropping on the conversation between you and your son. I've had simular discussions with my crew of four, all grown now, and out on their own. It's a little different in the United States but by the end of high school they were so done with writing essays. I wonder what they would say now that they're in professional jobs that often require strong writing skills? Great post.

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