My high school creative writing class is small and can't afford to have quality control. Last trimester was the worst it has ever been. The highlights were: the worst fan-fic I have ever read (the main character is superman and batman's love child) a young man who couldn't figure out how to write sensible dialogue, a guy who wrote only wrote rap lyrics (I would have minded less if they were good) a girl who one week just wrote a rant and her best friend who wrote a short story that got her a trip to the principle's office by a different teacher because it looked a little too much like a terrorist threat .
My teacher was full of feminist activism during my English literature lessons. Not that that's a bad thing, but it seriously put me off bothering my own view points in the class... being the only male out of 12......
She forced it down our throats ( I'm saying ours, many of the girls also felt it was oppressive).
Scenario: She would start the lesson encouraging us to voice and explore our own interpretations and opinions of the text, and that everyone's own standing is valid as long as you can back it up with evidence/explanation etc
She would read a section of the text, then talk about her own interpretation and opinion of the characters, the events, the symbolism etc (no matter what being critical of male actions and view points)
She then went around the class getting everyone to comment on the text, and of course turned to me. "So, how about you give us a male perspective on the text, since you are the only male here."
Id have to explain my view point, but every time, even if it agreed mostly with the rest of the classes, she would sit there after I had finished, hesitate slight and say "that's not quite what were looking for", followed up by a monologue of slightly insulting explanations of male psychology......................................................................................................................
It put me off even bothering to contribute, and for about 4 months when ever I got asked a question I just shrugged and didn't even attempt to answer. Probably didn't improve her personal view points of men, but I couldn't care less at that point. I felt it was pointless to contribute at all and everything I thought/ felt about the text was irrelevant. (despite her explanation at the beginning of no opinion is wrong?)
It was seriously the worst time studying literature I have ever experienced. I'm all for gender equality, just not the improvement of one to the disadvantage of the other. Equality means equal, not her version of 'Women need to be more important than men'.
Now that I have opened a whole new bag of worms, I shall depart haha xD
Jeeze, iam not sure I could have play edit so coy and probably would have called her out on it or had one of the girls in the class call her out.
I grew up and went to school in a very conservative part of the country so I never really dealt with any activisum but I did have a tech teacher who was highered due to affirmative action who thought the first layer of the osi model was the presentation layer and flunked me on a test because I listed it elsewise........ She also frequently graded and returned homework and forgot to write the grade in her book and then gave 0% for it at the end of the period
Im not naturally a confident person, and that certainly didnt help haha. I don't do well with confrontation either. Im one of those that if I need to speak to a teacher, but they are teaching in a class at that time, I would hover outside constantly bricking it and nearly going in before stopping, waiting another few minutes to try again. >_< And even then I get shakey hands and voice in front of 30 12 year olds haha xD Im nearly 18 damn it!
Nightmare :/ That happened to me, week after week losing my work after I hand it in, then marking me down as 0%, I even got the head involved as my parents saw me write/ draw my work, but she still refused to accept I did anything all year haha!
My horror stories are about the students, not the teachers.
I was in a Novel Writing class in community college--yeah, I shouldn't expect much, but I'm poor and I made shit grades in high school--and more than half the people there seemed to be taking it for an "easy A". However, this story isn't about one of those people. This is about one of the girls who was actually quite serious, although I doubt she's ever read a whole novel in her entire life.
Our assignment was to write a chapter of our novels every 2 weeks and bring in enough copies for the whole class to read over, take home, and critique. In this way, all the students ended up reading everyone's work.
Her "novel" was really more of a series of repeating essays restating the same message: all women are innocent angels, all men are cruel predators who merely want to get in a woman's pants, humiliate her and leave her. Each "chapter" was a story about a different innocent pure girl who was only looking for true love falling for a douche bag and ending up with the same result. At the close of her chapters, she wrote in an essay explaining her views on how all men are evil and how all girls should "watch out".
The text itself was also very heavily flawed. She used txtspk. She used cliches in every paragraph. The text had no real organization to it as she would jump back and forth chronologically; there was even a point where the poor innocent girl is about to have sex with the douchebag, and she wrote in "(I'm not gonna write that, just use your imagination )" including the smiley face.
I critiqued the shit out of it (we were graded on our critiques as well as our work) and she ended up crying. Some white-knight friend called me a bitch, and then the teacher humiliated me in front of the class while sucking up to her.
Two words: Scarlet Letter. If you want to turn an entire school off of classic literature, make that mandatory reading. What a god awful piece of ancient shit. Fucking Nathaniel Hawthorne does not believe in fucking paragraphs, just 5-6 page long paragraphs before a break, and the subject matter was absolutely miserable.
Having read some of the replies made me realize I was really fairly fortunate. I always had teachers who encouraged creative and critical thinking, knew their subject well, and knew how to balance challenge and encouragement.
It sounds like most people here have taken their horror stories from some kind of further education. My horror story, however, was basically everything I did for GCSE.
GCSE English ruined just about every book I had to read for the thing. As if the ludicrously rigid, often pretty unlikely interpretations we had to memorise weren't bad enough, we had to read every book many, many times over. You know. In order to fully absorb how each book could only be taken to mean the one particular thing we'd been told it meant. We once read the same chapter of Lord of the Flies every day for a week because the string of supply teachers we had refused to break away from the lesson plan that had been left for Monday.
You know how people always say they wish they'd tried harder in school? I wish I'd just walked out of the room.
I've never taken any dedicated literature classes save a few combined literature and language ones in college before I dropped out.
On the first day of that lit&lang class, our teacher--barely older than us, and only just recieved his teaching qualifications--made up a word. I pretty much stopped listening then. It took several dictionaries coming out of bags to convince him that the word did not actually exist, although I can't for the life of me remember what it was.
We also had to read The Kite Runner, and study The History Boys. No. Never again. It was almost as bad as studying Lord of the Flies--I loathe that book--for GCSE literature. For the time I was there, I was scoring high in everything, but my enjoyment levels had taken a dive; filing in at 9am to discuss the raping of young children present in the last few chapters, is not very fun.
The only other issue was in yr 9, where we had to write a creative piece based around "the arrival of a stranger". My teacher was blown away by mine--even if she was a little confused when I said 'parentheses' instead of 'brackets'--and I scored the only A+ in the class, above even the higher achievers in it. Unfortunately, that teacher was forced to take leave when she suffered horrific racial abuse from some tosser who had come to our school that year after being expelled from his last one. That meant that, when it came to the departmental marking of the writing, she was unable to lend her opinions and weight. This ended in my piece being downgraded to an A, and two others in my class being upgraded to A+--both of them from aforementioned 'high achievers'. When I recieved the newly graded work, I was quite deflated not because of what happened, but because they had badly tip-exed out the old marks, and scrawled in the new ones over it. I was a single mark off that A+, and that single mark cost me an A in GCSE literature.
Luckily GCSEs don't really mean much so long as you pass, but I can't say that I wasn't annoyed, at least, especially since I was also only a single mark off an A in one of my Sciences.
I once took a creative writing class with this horrifically pedantic instructor. You know, the sort who wouldn't tolerate even the slightest deviation from any sort of rules. You could get five percent of your assignment grade knocked away for a dangling participle or a comma splice in that class, to say nothing of whether you went above or below the word limit, or deviated from the story structures she'd shown us in class--no matter how conscious your decision to break that rule might have been, or how greatly it benefited the story. I'm fairly certain that it was impossible to write a truly good story within the restrictions she placed on us. I wasted a lot of perfectly good ideas on her class. And mind, I do understand perfectly well why an instructor might choose to be very rigid during a first year writing course. There are a lot of people in beginning lit who need to learn to conventions and problem-solving skills before they even begin to worry about creativity. But hot damn did she ruin things for the rest of us as well.
I also had a lit instructor who simply could not listen to anybody for the life of him. You couldn't even ask the man a question and get a relevant answer, let alone discuss literary interpretations with him. I once asked him what sort of citation style he wanted us to use for a paper, and he responded by repeating what kind of sources he wanted us to use. Trying to discuss anything in class with him was impossible because no matter what you said--or even if you said it to him or another student--he would always take what you said and either twist or completely overwrite it with his own interpretation, whilst asking, "That's what you meant, right?" And yet, for some reason, it was always the case that if you were writing a paper or filling out an exam, he was always ready to recognise the differences between your interpretation and his ow, and mark you wrong for them.
I also had an instructor who seemed to believe that her students entire lives revolved around her class. Our university has this tier system, and depending on the tier that your class is organised into, there are upper and lower limits on the amount of coursework you can give. That way students can anticipate the workload of each class when they're signing up, so that they don't get more than they can handle or less than they need. She was in the bottom tier, so she could assign just an hour's worth of homework for each hour of class. She had three hours of class each week. So she went ahead and assigned us a novel and five page analytical paper each week, plus four exam papers. Her reasoning was that since everybody in that class probably reads at least fifteen hours a week in our spare time anyway, we might as well just read the books she assigned to us. Because that's how leisure time works.
And, yeah, there have been a lot of instructors who make the class all about their personal taste in literature, or who just each the same shit they learned from their instructors, who learned it from their instructors, eighty years ago. But I guess that's just what you're bound to deal with if you want to study lit.
As far as the first example you gave I think I can see the instructors point of view. If you are teaching an entry level writing class, every fresh new student shows up thinking they are God's gift to literature. I can see how that would ware on you as a teacher as you lay out specific guidelines and your students never follow them as you instructed because it helped their terribly ameture story. As a student I would approach the assignments at face value and probably wouldn't out my best foot forward as far as creativity goes. Teachers like that will give you a 4.0 for a turd on a stick so long as you followed the rules exact. It sounds to me kike you regret wasting good ideas on that class trying to bend the story to fit her rules, I am wondering why you bothered with A material story boards to begin with.
I had precisely one college-level English lit course. It's because I went to an intensive engineering school, which required only one "Humanities" course a semester, and I chose ancient history whenever I could.
Most of the hum professors managed to maintain some sort of enthusiasm for their subject, and I think most have gone on to better places for their fields of study (my art history prof certainly has) but this English lit instructor was an older, quiet woman under no illusions about her place in the academic pecking order. The challenge in that class was to stay awake.
I've been taking a critical methods class, which teaches you about the critical lenses of literature (i.e. Formalist, Poststructuralist, etc.). It's not my favorite class, namely because I had to read Huckleberry Finn again, but that's not the part that makes me cringe.
I'll start by saying that I am an adult, and I understand the sexual stuff is apart of life. I survived my Freud-happy psychology teacher and my older (my mother's age) classmates discussing sexytime with their husbands during my second quarter of college, and I've seen all the nude statues in Humanities and all that. I'm not a prude, entirely, but some things just.... I'll leave it with that.
But what started my dislike was probably the Psychoanalytical approach, where you use psychology to analyse a piece, usually an author or a general tone of a piece. They mentioned how the childhood tale "Little Red Riding Hood" was a sex-filled tale, saying the red hood was a sign of a girl's period and the wolf was really a sex-hungry beast. I know there are more adult versions of the story, but they were talking about the kid one, the one we all read as children and adored. I thought nothing dirty about that story until I read that, and I still think "It's just a girl and a wolf. Why does it have to be anything more than that?"
The real dozy(sp?) that just blew my ass for a loop came last week. They started mentioning a "rabbit incident" while analyzing Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" through a historical lens. I'd never heard of this, so I just skimmed through it. Half a page later, they defined the "rabbit incident" as a woman who shoved rabbits into her vagina and labored them out. Hawthorne would have heard this story, they suggested, hence why he...something or other. The point is a woman shoved rabbits into her vagina. Did I need to know this? NO
I'm afraid to read this book now, but I still have a month left
Also, I'm currently in a literature-focused track for my English degree. But this semester has been brutal, especially on the reading front, and I've realized now that it's just not for me. I'll probably be changing to creative writing, once I do a little more research to make sure it's the right choice for me. But I think this class, the demented little course of epic-fucking-confusion, helped me see that I needed to make a better decision. (That and if I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn one more time at the college level, I quit. I don't like this book, and it's the third time I've covered it. Are there not other great American novels out there? Hmm? Hmm!! And writing a paper about it through a critical lens (hopefully. She told me which one I'm doing, but I don't understand it, so I'll be writing a paper as I see it and turning it in and praying I pass because I don't fucking care anymore), a 2000+ word paper, is just killing me. I like writing, but about things I like, not things I wish I could burn....)
Sorry this is long You opened the door for ranting....and I do feel better now. Thanks for that^^
Unfortunately, I do have to agree with the way your class read the Little Red Riding Hood story. I'm studying fairy tales in depth and the general academic consensus is that LRRH is a story meant to educate young girls about abstinence and the perils of sex out of wedlock. The sexual reading makes WAY more sense, however, if you read it in a historical context. The earliest known variant of Little Red (author unknown) explicitly states that it's about sex by use of a metaphor common in the time period in which the story was written. Later variants of the story by Perrault and Basile tone the metaphor down, but the earliest known variant of the tale (as well as many of its retellings) was indeed meant to be a moral lesson to young girls on the cusp of puberty.
My boyfriend told my about those earlier versions, but the book doesn't say which version they're analyzing, the old or the new (though it seems to be more the newer one than the older ones). I think my jaw wouldn't have fallen so hard if they would have said which version, and if they weren't being so hard on the psychoanalytical approach in the first place. It's very clear that the editors aren't fond of that type of reading, and it makes it hard to read the chapter and learn from it. I think they also tried to pick the most extreme yet well known example they could just to prove their point.
I'm a little surprised that your textbook is classifying the sexual reading of old Little Red Riding Hood variants as a "psychoanalytical" reading in the first place. It really has more to do with a sociological reading, to be honest, which makes me wonder just how informed your textbook's authors are. From what little you've told me it feels like they're just grasping at ways to bash the psychoanalytical approach without actually trying to understand it or find truly pertinent examples. And that's a shame--sometimes the psychoanalytical approach can be a wonderfully revealing reading mode if applied correctly.
I've noticed that some texts hold a reading bias toward certain types of readings and other modes of analysis. That always irks me; how can I learn if the author is biased against a whole style of analysis? I'm sorry you're having trouble connecting with your text book. That never makes for fun learning and learning should very definitely be a fun process.
I'm beginning to think they don't know what they're doing, or else they're too biased to do their job properly. I don't know how many of the authors/editors are male, but the feminist chapter had glaring typos, a few of which stopped me in my tracks. The psychoanalytical approach had a tone that was just quick and abrupt. I haven't been aware of this long enough to examine the whole book, and I don't have time now to go back, but I think they're all stupid. While certain aspects of the psychoanalytical approach aren't appealing to me (i.e. the sexualizing of stories that aren't sexual based on some of Freud's theories. Note that I'm not fond of him either, namely because he only focuses on the male sexuality, demeaning women at times. I do like some of his dream interpretations, though not all of them), I agree that it's quite useful. Trying to decipher an author's underlying meanings can sometimes only be done with the help of psychology.
It's not a fun class in general, but the textbook's problems do make it harder. We're also having to write a paper using one of the lenses to analyze The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. First of all, this is the third time I've covered this novel and I don't hate it-hate it, but I'm like this close *glares at book*. Secondly, and this pertains to our conversation, the lens I plan on using is a cultural studies lens. Unfortunately, we're not studying it in the class, so I'm all on my own The paper is due Tuesday (technically) and I haven't started it yet. I'm not even excited about it like I am my other paper (about superstitions in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried a Vietnam War novel. It's going to be great). I'm about to give up my weekend for this thing too, so wish me luck. Hopefully I won't have to use my lighter to finish it (I don't like burning books, but I think both my textbook and Huck Finn deserve it at this point. Maybe if I give it a funeral it'll quit following me around).
What's hilarious is that psychologists today all recognize Frued's work as totally fallacious and not to be taken seriously. The reason people still read him is because he was the first to pioneer psychoanalytic theory and therefore keeps a revered place in psych history. Today's psychological advancements have proven Freud as a bit of a hack with a few good ideas buried under a ton of crap. Isn't psych fun?
I agree with you that some parts of psych theory are just plain uncomfy. Sometimes things just go far too far for comfort, even if they might make sense if you turn your head to the side and squint.
Wait, your textbook has TYPOS? OMG, I'd be foaming at the mouth. And I'm so sorry you feel like you have to burn your books. I got through Huck Finn once and I never want to go through it again. Three times sounds like hell.
I have a paper due Monday that I also haven't started! We should start a procrastinator's club! Mine is on fairy tales, any topic I choose. I'm thinking of examining the idea of agency in female characters and how portrayals of agency might differ between authors as well as the time periods in which these authors inhabit. So I guess it's a mix of sociological and psychoanalytic theory? Shoot me.
I enjoyed my first go with psychology. I had a fun teacher, and despite having a class with a guy I absolutely hated, it was a great semester (I only had half of it thanks to my crazy high school, but I still learned a lot. I even made a 2 out of 5 on my AP test, better than I did on my English ones...and I'm an English person all around). But my second go was a nightmare. My teacher was in love with Freud, and she completely believed that everything had sexual undertones (are humans governed by sex? Pretty much most of us. Is everything else in the world? Mostly no). And what did we talk about? SEX. Who was in this class? A) Recent high school grads, out only for the summer and B) Adults the age of their parents. Yeah, I made a C in there. Love the subject, hated the class
I like some of the crazy parts of psych, such as the disorder. I loved the disorders But some things are a little hard to handle, such as real-life cases with some messed up people, though studying serial killers is pretty fun.
Yes, typos As I mentioned, I'm an English buff too, like part-time Grammar Nazi (okay, full time, but I try to keep that part of me under wraps because most of my friends are bad spellers and such). I would make an amazing proofreader because if I find a typo in something like that, I simply can't let it go until I fix it (I hate writing in books too, but that is my one exception). At least I didn't finish the first time and only studied the movie the second time. I still had to read it all the way for my third time. I liked some aspects, but I'd still like to take an ax to Tom Sawyer. Reading his book was super horrible too.
You get to do fairy tales? You are so lucky! It sounds like it'll be a fun paper, if you've already done your research like I have and simply have to piece together your argument. Well I'm not completely done with my research, but one teacher wanted an annotated bibliography a month before the paper was due (I hate that class. Yes, it's the Huck Finn class). The other one, the Vietnam one, is like my reward right now. Between that paper and quality boyfriend time, I don't know which one makes me happier. I can't wait to write it, but oh the deadlines Procrastinators Unite...tomorrow
I have managed to thus far completely avoid reading anything by Twain and I have zero desire to start. I had been forced against my will to read gatsby but I gave up and bs-ed my way through the class exams. I only got a C but it was worth it.
You are so lucky *glares with envy* I've read various works of Twain (Tom Sawyer in middle school and some of his short stories in high school), and the only one I remember remotely being okay with were the short stories, but the other two were BS-fests. I've actually read Gatsby and somewhat liked it (not my favorite, but not the worst, especially compared to Huck Finn). It's an interesting aspect of society, but I could see where people could have room to hate it. Congrats on your C I'm aiming for a B with this Huck Finn paper, but I could really use an A. This semester has not been kind to me, and with this home stretch coming up (multiple exams until the end, then final exams), it's only getting worse. *shrug* At least Christmas break is coming and things should pick up for me...hopefully.
I've probably brought this up a few times since I've been part of dA Lit, but probably my worst experience in a literature or writing class was a poetry-writing class I took in college. I just didn't see eye to eye with my professor, and when I would try to make the fixes he suggested in workshop, it seemed to make my poetry worse. It was probably my application of the suggestions more than the suggestions themselves, since he agreed that the poems lacked something after being stripped down. The poetry he liked in the class I usually hated, and I didn't like his poetry either. I have a friend who had similarly negative experiences w/this teacher. Other than that, I had generally positive experiences with college lit classes.
My experiences in high school were less horrific, more just dumb mundane crap. I didn't enjoy my sophomore year English class. The material was fine, but the pace was too slow, and I was miles ahead of the class. I'd had a really good teacher my first year; it was a general class, but she worked at a higher level and tried to challenge students while encouraging them. Sophomore teacher was nice, but don't think she's worked out the balance and ended up working more in the middle, like many teachers in public schools do. I should've been in honors English anyway. My junior year honors English teacher loved to hammer on a single interpretation when we were studying a novel and would squeeze your analysis until she got it. Also, I could never quote enough passages for the woman. But I'm kinda glad for that, because it prepared me for college and made me better able to write papers at that level. I liked my AP English teacher a lot, but her breath smelled awful. Cigarettes and coffee, I guess. She was also kinda obsessed with Gerard Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot, which is actually a good thing.
I haven't taken any college let courses yet though I haven't ruled tem out of my future. My English was full of "mundane crap" as well but we read through it in class so I didn't have the luxury of rushing through it. I hated it when they tried to squeeze an interpretation out of me because I often felt the metaphors were terribly done by the authors and that interpretations were totally up in the air as to anyone's guess. Maybe that was just me being na´ve...
I never really thought that, but it depends on the author. A lot of it also depends on the approach to interpretation one takes and the historical/cultural context in which the writer was working. Plus the context of the work itself. What I think my teacher was doing was emphasizing particular approaches to the analysis (like we studied the meaning of symbols in a traditional and psychoanalytic sense).
She was actually a good teacher, I just thought she forced the issue a bit much. I still got a lot out of the class and enjoyed everything we read. But I never soured on a book because I was reading it in school. I really don't have the same relationship to "classics" as some readers/students. I know this makes me weird.