1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CSET, English, Subtest IV

They say the third time is the charm, and I need big medicine to pass this examination. It seems to contain my deepest fears and resentments in the way I think English ought not to be taught: many technical and superficial details without much meaning or depth.

The breadth of these four mini-essays chokes my mind and pulverizes my spirit; I am bereft on the shores of some obscure analogy. Woe, is me!

Finding Positivity 

Facing my fears about English-as-discipline (versus what it primarily is, as a great mentor, Ted Snow, wistfully pointed out to me years ago: a language!) has been useful. At the very least I'm experiencing for myself the anguish that many students face: How do I continue to love literature, art, drama, the spoken word, and, yea, even technological marvels when I am asked to distill all of this greatness into a muddy canal or trickling stream? It seems to be a horror of sorts: to do the thing you love you must first murder it.

The language alive boiled down to bullet points and pragmatic tips for students. I'm no Shakespeare, but I think he too would be horrified. Dare I say that the Bard himself might never have been credentialed to teach English. And yet he is what is Taught!


The struggle of preparing has led me to reflect on my two previous failures and understand what is to be done tomorrow. It's a simple matter and for once the criticism of "You're over-thinking this" rings true (Q. Why don't we hear more talk of under-thinking? Isn't that a greater fault?). On my two previous attempts I took the prompts as springboards to wax eloquent about all things tangential. That was my fault.

This time I will stick close to the question and flesh it out thoroughly. No digressions, no chit-chat. Just the facts, ma'am. I possess the knowledge and the ability to demonstrate it. I need only the humility to do what is asked.

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