A Complaint and A Possible Soultion For English

Staff Writer: Orian Johnson


I came across a tweet a while back complaining that English as a class, isn’t a subject that should be be graded. Though it’s not inherently difficult to understand why, as I’ve seen other posts on Twitter and Tumblr like it, and even heard the complaints in person. Now the explanation and solution I have hinge on the students being in high school, as there are already creative writing classes in college.

What I believe students are trying to get across is that English is conceptually, the one subject that technically shouldn’t have any wrong answers, especially when it comes to writing, where creativity is truly allowed to flow aside from art. Even more so when a writer has their own vision and target audience in mind. That’s not to say creative writing can’t be graded or gauged on a specific or accurate scale. Concepts like character depth, purposeful symbolism, dialogue and how it exemplifies character identity, consistency/continuity in characters and environments are all taken into account when considering the quality of a work. For example, The Great Gatsby, a book most read in high school is widely accepted as a classic and lauded as a great book. The story is mostly carried through symbolism which seeps into every aspect of the story. Character names tell the reader the gist of their personalities, colors are used to convey motives and emotion, etc. The characters are consistent and their depth comes from the reader making analysis of them, and in a surprisingly simple way. I’m not trying to write a review of the novel though. Qualities of a work like that aren’t necessarily down to a perfect science as every writer is different as well as every reader, but each aspect could theoretically be broken down into tiers that could be given some kind of rating. Though not in the sense of your superintendent wagging his finger and telling you that your vocabulary wasn’t strong enough.

This isn’t something I plan on trying to implement as I’ve already graduated and will be majoring in English with creative writing, but perhaps somebody reading this with more influence than I have and more free time to give this idea more thought could come up with a more sound solid solution.