Grade 12 English has long been viewed as an important part of the preparation for life that high school offers. One must wonder, why? Those who need it are required to take it, those who do not need it can be held back by it and end up resisting literature. Grade 12 English should not be a required subject, but should instead become an elective, allowing those who need it to take it and those who don’t need it to concentrate on another field.
A question that needs to be answered is, do students graduating need to be well-rounded? If your answer to that question is yes, then the question become, how well-rounded? And also, why Grade 12 English? Why not an ‘interest’ English course, or an art course, or a Phys. Ed. course? Of course, reading skills were very necessary to survive and be a functioning member of society. Yet in this technological age, reading is becoming less of an asset.
When a student is going to move on university, a prerequisite for almost all university courses is Grade 12 English. In that way, those who are going to need the writing skills offered by the course will be required to take them anyway. For those whose chosen career path does not require that they
go through more schooling, English ends up getting in the way. Why not let them begin to specialize in their field? If high school is going to prepare for life, how does English help a mechanic in their career? English becomes an obstacle to their career goals.
A large part of English class is teaching students literature appreciation. At this stage, however, those who enjoy that part of the class are the ones who already appreciate literature. On the other hand, those who do not already appreciate literature tend to rebel against this forced enjoyment. Why push them further away instead of opening up the possibility of them discovering it for themselves later in life, when they might be more receptive?
In the end, it becomes a question of, how much control should we give teens over their own lives? To what extent should we tell them what to do and to what extent do they get to decide for themselves? High schools also have guidance counselors that can help direct students. I think that we should be able to trust that between the student and the guidance counselor they will be able to make a reasonable decision regarding Grade 12 English, and more importantly, their future.