The purpose of the English major

June 23rd, 2013 | Filed under: Currently Reading

“STUDYING the humanities should be like standing among colleagues and students on the open deck of a ship moving along the endless coastline of human experience. Instead, now it feels as though people have retreated to tiny cabins in the bowels of the ship, from which they peep out on a small fragment of what may be a coastline or a fog bank or the back of a spouting whale.”

I usually groan at articles by college professors lamenting “kids don’t know how to ____!” However, this one gave me pause and has me thinking even more about my job as a teacher of English and, more specifically, a teacher of thinking and communicating.

The Decline and Fall of the English Major – The New York Times

h/t to @bkolani who shared this link via Twitter

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4 Comments on “The purpose of the English major”

  1. 1 Linda Check said at 2:38 pm on September 29th, 2013:

    Hello! My name is Linda Check and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in EDM310. Reading the article you linked with your blog post, made me stop and think a moment. As a future educator I hope to instill the knowledge in my students that literature and writing are powerful tools for life. I have seen parents shake their heads when my friends have told them they want to be English majors, but what the parents do not realize is that their children will change lives. As a bookworm, I have had pieces of literature open my eyes and change my view on many different topics. The gift that humanities brings to people is “clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.” I agree with this statement and hope that more people can see just how important the humanities are. If interested, my blog page is, and I would love for you to take a look!

  2. 2 Lance Wilkinson said at 8:49 pm on October 20th, 2013:

    Ms. Worrell,

    Hello! My name is Lance Wilkinson. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama.

    Thank you for sharing this article! This is immensely fascinating to me as well because I am studying to teach History. It has been said many times that Humanities subjects are in decline, but I’m sure they will make a resurgence.

    Clear writing is such a viable skill that studying Humanities subjects helps one achieve. A Humanities degree will help one develop a competency about the world around him and not only prepare one for a career, but help one gain an understanding of the world along the way.

    Lance Wilkinson

  3. 3 Shanda Thornton said at 6:55 pm on November 10th, 2013:

    My name is Shanda Thornton and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am studying to be an Elementary Teacher. I am the EDM310 and I was assigned to you for my C4T(Comments for teachers). I really enjoyed your post and the link you left in it. I think it is very important for English teachers to be the best teacher that students have. Learning language is a big part of the lives of the students. It is sad when students don’t have a teacher up to par! Students need a great teacher starting from kindergarten on who will correct and teach them all the way through!

    Thanks for Sharing!

  4. 4 Kyle Parrish said at 5:55 pm on September 14th, 2014:

    It’s Kyle Parrish from EDM310 again. Thanks for posting this article. I found the article to be fascinating with a good point that I had yet to consider. I like the point the author made about educators not doing a good enough job explaining why we need humanities. One of the most fundamental jobs asked of anyone in the job force is to express their ideas clearly. Many times this is done through the written (or electronically written in today’s age) word. One must understand and know how to do this effectively and efficiently. That’s the main point from the article that sat and resonated with me. We, as educators, must do a better job at selling our craft to perspective students.

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