I hate math. I really do. I have a hard time multiplying any number past 7. So much of my dislike of math is that I struggle to see its purpose in my life. Why do I need to know the quadratic equation? When will it ever impact my life? However, I finally saw some meaning when my teachers would offer word problems, like “you are 90 miles away from the nearest town. Your car gets 23 miles to the gallon. How many gallons of gas will you have gone through when you get to the town?” While I still had a hard time with basic arithmetic, I liked the applicability of these problems. They made math seem more common place and useful in my world.
Unfortunately, a lot of the students in our English classes feel the same way about our passion. To them, they don’t understand why we study stories about other people’s lives. They don’t understand how analyzing a symbol will improve their personal life. They don’t understand how studying the stylistic shifts in a passage make them a better person. However, these skills are important. They create students who are curious, seek creative solutions, sharpen their analytical thinking, and learn moral lessons without the risk. But these skills can be transferred in a way that still strengthens and hones them while maintaining the real-world connection: the legal system.
Similar to other subjects, our courses prepare students for more than just being a math major in college. One such career that English plays a crucial role in developing is the law field. Being an effective lawyer requires individuals to be able to synthesize a variety of sources and pieces of evidence, recognize the larger implications, develop strong, cogent arguments, and structure their remarks in a stylized, pathos-inducing format.
For many students who hate reading fiction and can’t connect to young boy traveling down the Mississippi on a raft with a runaway slave, consider incorporating more activities and texts associated with the legal system and you will be able to develop the same skills with more interest and fervor. This week we will be profiling several major cases and techniques to more fluidly bring them into the classroom for a variety of grades and abilities.
Image from Walknboston