10 things your English teacher should have told you

17 Jan

I spent three years as a private English tutor. It’s less glamorous than it sounds so to make up for it I liked to imagine myself as a 19th Century governess who was destined to rebel against society’s restrictions by stealing the heart of her rugged and brooding aristocratic employer. This never happened but to this day it remains my favourite gig. It’s something about the way their eyes light up when they master narrative voice or iambic pentameter.

Not being an actual qualified educator, my tactic was to win my students’ trust by swearing like a drunken wharfie and talking about drugs. Below are ten pearls of wisdom.

  1. The Romantics were really just hippies before there were hippies. “For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity”* sounds a little better than “double rainbow!” but it’s really the same concept.
  2. Shakespeare had no idea what the fuck he was doing.
  3. Movie adaptations aren’t always worse than the book.
  4. There are many people worth swooning over. At this stage all of them are in literature and none are sitting in the back row.
  5. Listen to Hermione.
  6. A person isn’t right just because they’re on TV wearing a suit in front of a bookcase.
  7. WWAFD? (What Would Atticus Finch Do?)
  8. Bladerunner could happen. Recycle.
  9. How to use a semicolon.
  10. No amount of cramming and rote learning can ever compare to a stroke of creative genius. This is unlikely to occur in high school. Do shit. Watch people. Pay attention. And if  that fails make like Mary Shelley and head for the woods. Or at least invest in good tea and a houseplant.

*Taken from Wordsworth’s Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey. On a scale of 1 to spunkbucket how much of a wanker does this quote make me? Place your score in the comments below.

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6 Responses to “10 things your English teacher should have told you”

  1. Bec January 17, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    No. 7 has pretty much been my life motto since age 15. It has served me well so far. More kids should learn that.

    • fixitdearhenry January 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Personally, I really wish I’d paid more attention to #4.

  2. K. Potato January 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Ha, ha. So, what’s your advice for using semicolons; can you please elaborate?

  3. theotherwatson January 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Awesome post! Funnily enough, having been an English teacher for a year now, I have actually taught (in varying ways) many of these things you list. I like to think this is a good thing! I imagine you were a very good tutor, too (I like the drunken wharfie image 😛 )

  4. Raymond Huber January 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Love this, ta. Numbers 3 and 7 seem linked: To Kill a Mockingbird is one such rarity, and recently, Hugo.

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