Class Talk

classroomThe British essayist Samuel Johnson wrote, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.”

Sure, English 10 and 12 are required high school courses. But, that doesn’t mean they have to be tasking. I tell my students often that course texts, learning objects, and related assignments in my class aren’t arbitrary; I make a point to help them see their long-term significance.

A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

Textually, this translates to English 12 students learning to relate the journalistic, wordsmithy style of Samuel Johnson to everyday communication with family, coworkers, or friends. It means applying the thematic concept of the destructive nature of unrestrained ambition observed in Macbeth to the modern work environment in which power-hungry employees sometimes do anything, no matter how unethical, for the chance at a promotion. It also means for 10th graders getting to see from Lord of the Flies what happens when authority (i.e., authority figures, rules, standards, etc.) is removed from homes, school, workplaces, communities, and society.

My classes also develop practical writing throughout the year. While reading Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Le Morte d’Arthur, 12th grade students analyze the leadership qualities of the stories’ protagonists and apply them to needed qualities for success in college and career environments. 10th graders write TV or radio scripts intended to help them make persuasive arguments, a practical skill when bargaining for a deal on a car, selling goods or forming businesses alliances, and even occasionally helping them bring parents, siblings, or friends to their way of thinking.

While reading Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Le Morte d’Arthur, 12th grade students analyze the leadership qualities of the stories’ protagonists and apply them to needed qualities for success in college and career environments.

But wait, there’s more.

This year, my 10th and 12th grade classes have even greater opportunities for college and career preparation.

English 12 classes are simultaneously participating in practical literary studies and a senior project. The senior project includes the following:

  • Writing a cover letter and resume
  • Selecting a career interest, related research topic, and an inquiry question
  • Contacting and selecting a mentor at a local career-choice-related business
  • Participating in a career-choice-related community service and creating a useful product for donation
  • Giving an end-of-year presentation reviewing all aspects of the project, including areas of growth

One of my English 10 classes has also been chosen to participate in a new program titled, Classroom CEO. The idea originated with Theresa Shadrix, an active OHS Career Tech teacher and organization sponsor. Each month several local business leaders visit five OHS classrooms to co-teach with assigned teachers important academic and professional concepts. Phil Webb, owner of Webb Concrete, has devoted time to work with my students. This program has at several primary aims: (1) strengthen the transition between education and employment by exposing the classroom to business leaders and the workplace to students; (2) increase academic success by building awareness of characteristics businesses covet in those who seek employment; (3) to increase motivation through allowing students to see the post-education benefits of academic achievement; (4) to strengthen involvement of stakeholders whose insights can significantly improve the quality of instruction in our school.

Mr. Somers (aka S’mores)

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