A few nights ago, my family and I were discussing post-secondary education, specifically university institutions, and how, really, they aren’t so great in terms of the educational curriculum they offer. This may be a bold statement, and I realize this stance varies significantly depending on the subject matter or specific area of study one may pursue in university. Speaking on behalf of my experience in studying English Language and Literature, however, I can attest to the validity of this statement.
I studied English for four years in university in the Honours program. I essentially pursued English because it was always my best subject in school, and also because I enjoy it, but I can’t say for certain whether or not I would study English again if I had the chance to reverse time and attend university once more. I couldn’t tell you how many books and novels I read, or how much literary theory, or how many essays and papers I wrote over the course of four years, but I can tell you it was a hell of a lot.
Essays are arguably the most common method for evaluation when studying English in university, and for good reasons. If you can construct a solid essay with a strong, debatable thesis statement (debatable meaning you could argue it), along with enough evidence and sources to support your thesis and sway over your reader, you have a solid concept of English and its components.
It’s rather disturbing, therefore, to acknowledge how despite the emphasis and stakes placed on a student’s ability to compose an essay, not once in my entire university career was I ever taught how to write an essay properly in accordance with the rules of the English language. And yes, you read that correctly.
I took it upon myself to consult with my professors and teaching assistants, along with Google, to assist me in understanding how to write an essay. I think this is a bit insane, however, considering the cost of tuition, and the amount of time it takes to graduate with a degree.
Is it just me, or does anyone else see some flaws in the university educational system in this particular context?