In college, what is the one major that is given the most grief for supposedly being the least “helpful” in terms of obtaining a career? I’ve heard of several, but none of them compare to the one on so many people’s lips. Then let me tell you now that most people will tell you it’s English. Why major or minor in it? People don’t seem to understand it very well. They come to me and say “You won’t make money with English”. It’s when they tell me this that I wonder if that’s what society has become.
I recently read a study that was posted last week in the Houston Chronicle about the passing scores of different subjects in Texas schoolsl. Would it surprise you that the math and sciences are on the rise? Both of these being over 85% each surprised me a little, but my real shock was yet to come. Reading and writing passing rate was just above 35%. My mouth dropped, and indeed I almost dropped the paper. That few? That means out of 10 students only 3-4 pass reading and writing. I’m not even talking about getting good grades in it, this is just passing the class period. That my friends, is a disturbing thing.
So I pose a thought to you all. Perhaps American society as a whole, disrespects English majors/minors because the career fields are becoming more focused on a science and mathematics based society rather then one based on… imagination and creativity.
There are few who acknowledge dreamers. Who dreams the greatest dreams? A writer, or a scientist? Both can have imagination, but who’s is more inspiring. Does anyone look into history and remember many scientist that impacted their childhood with their works? Personally, I’ve never done that. The authors that gave me a childhood filled with adventure was Arthur Conan Doyle, Terry Brooks, T.A. Barron, Brian Jacques, Charles Sheffield, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Howard Pyle, Issac Asimov, and oh so many more.
I love reading and writing dearly. I couldn’t live if I couldn’t do them both. For that reason, I feel saddened to see those scores from the Texas youth. I would ask parents why. “Oh parent of children. Why does your child fiddle with numbers? I see them as they do their homework. They complete the work and write the bare minimum, read only what they must, and then watch T.V. Why do you not take them to the library? Why are they always playing video games? Why have they never heard of Sherlock Holmes? Why do I have to explain to them in college why Issac Asimov was a genius? It makes my heart weep for that inspiration they never received but for time lost to frivolity.”
If one would say “Oh by the time they get into college it’s to late to be inspired by writings”, then I’d tell them they were wrong. In both of my English classes, there were, indeed, only 5-6 people in a class of over 20, that actually cared deeply about what they wrote. I count myself among them. To all English majors or minors I would tell you to be headstrong and know that you aren’t *in* your major to obtain capital at obscene rates… no, your real career is to inspire people with your work. To bring a smile to the face of someone who had never seen such a well thought perspective or piece of literature. THAT… my friends, sounds like a respectable career in my mind.
- Ray Bradbury Dreams On (screenphiles.com)
- Struggling students buying passing grades at independent schools, warns Vancouver principal (vancouversun.com)
- Isaac Asimov Imagines Digital Learning in the Electronic Age … and Gets It Quite Right (1989) (openculture.com)
- Arthur Conan Doyle (hilobrow.com)
- “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien (zezee112.wordpress.com)
- lecture on sherlock holmes (engl329b.wordpress.com)