Barr’s English Class

English is a funny subject.  You learned how to read and write a long time ago.  The same skills you used to understand Arthur and the Ninja Turtles are the same skills we are going to use on Julius Caesar.  Your mother and your elementary school teachers taught you most of the English skills you will need for the rest of your life.  All we are going to do is refine that.

My job is to help you read, write, think, and speak better.  I am not over-interested in test scores; I am more interested in improvement.  By May, you will have much more skill with the English language than you have right now.  You will be able to read difficult works and get more out of it, you will be able to write more clearly and convey more complicated ideas, you will be able to think more clearly and more analytically, and you will be able to speak in front of a crowd.

The skills are important, but more importantly the study of literature is the art of illumination.  I believe that everyone has an inner light.  This flame may gutter, may dim, may flare and fade, but it is always there.  This inner light goes by many names, but the best term may be self-knowledge.  Our job and our duty is to develop that flame within ourselves so that it may illuminate us.

Now, the study of literature helps develop that flame, but only if we can connect the figures of literature to ourselves.  Writing and speaking develops that flame by forcing us to examine what we truly believe then expressing it clearly and courageously. 

Successful students must bring courage and respect; both traits are more important than computers or books.  Courage means “being willing to attempt projects that are difficult.”  To some, reading Shakespeare requires courage.  To others, writing personally requires courage.  Success in developing our light requires courage.  If it is being done easily, it is not being done well.

Respect means “treating others as well, or better, than we would like to be treated.”  Our duty in this class is to perform difficult tasks with courage.  As a result, we will make mistakes:  We will ask dumb questions, we will stutter in our speeches, and we will write bad sentences.  We need to treat every mistake with respect.  Mistakes are the growing pains of education. 

This class will ask you to put yourself, your beliefs, and your thoughts out there for everyone to see.  It will be a very, very difficult class, but it will reward you immensely and your light will burn brighter than you ever thought it could.


What class is about....