High school is meant to prepare students for the post secondary world. Whether it’s university, college, an apprenticeship, or even just going straight into work, the skills you learn in high school are supposedly ones you will need to know for the rest of your life.
I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic high school experience. I was involved in all the sports teams, clubs and councils, but the inside of the classroom was not as involving.
My experience with English was the most memorable. Coming into grade 9, I was looking forward to do all sorts of writing, including getting to write my first real essay. Most people despise essays, but I was optimistic. That optimism lasted a good five minutes.
I was soon being thrown templates and outlines, and was told to “jot down” ideas. I was supposed to use these papers as “guides” towards writing my essays, but it felt like I was just writing the entire essay right there on that page.
My classes followed the typical ‘point, proof, explain’ system. You state your point, find your proof, and explain it. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. There was absolutely nothing about it that was simple. I started to feel dyslexic while writing, but instead of mixing up letters, I mixed up my parts of a paragraph. My points were basically shortened explanations. My proofs were random quotations I picked from the text that somehow were supposed to support my points (which, like I said, were basically explanations), and my proofs still managed to seem more like the actual points that the points themselves. Confusing? Very. The only thing I seemed to be any good at was writing an explanation, but even then, the explanations were supposed to be 2-3 sentences, and each one of mine was pretty much a paragraph in itself.
Now somehow, and I am still not quite sure how, I managed to figure out the essay system enough to pull off good marks, but if you ask me to explain how to write a strong, compelling essay, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.
Unfortunately, even though I have escaped the wrath of the high school essay, I now face the even more grueling task of university papers. Just when I finally thought I was free, I was thrown right back into the essay trap. Not only am I going to have to write papers of all kinds, but I am supposed to already know how to perfectly execute these styles of writing, even though I haven’t been properly taught how.
Now as much as that essay optimism is gone and I am not ashamed to say I hate writing essays (my apologies go out to all my previous English teachers, you are all great people), I have always enjoyed writing. I’ve found it’s a way I can express who I am without always being thought of as “the soccer player”. Writing allows me to silently express my voice, yet still be loud.
Writing for academic purposes hasn’t always appealed to me, since the majority of the time it’s very formal. There is always a format to follow and rules to abide by. I like being able to put pen to paper and just write write whatever and however I feel inclined. On occasion, there is the odd assignment I actually look forward to completing, but your typical essays, narratives, articles, and paragraphs just aren’t my cup of tea.
I wish I had more creative control with the writing I was forced to do in high school. It was bad enough that the style didn’t fit with mine, but having to write about topics I have absolutely no care for made it just that much harder to do. Now, being in university and having to write more glorified academic papers, the chances of me getting to actually write what I want to write are slim to none.
I guess the one skill I can say I learned in high school that will stick with me is to just keep writing no matter what. Whether I like what I am doing or not, if I just keep writing, I will eventually get to the end.