I asked students at the end of their first semester in Honors English to write a two page response to the following question: What have you learned?
Here are a few of their responses.
Honors English 1
What I Have Learned in Honors English
Throughout this first semester of Honors English, I have learned many lessons that can be used. Due to Ms. Borger’s teaching, I have learned that we must be able to laugh at ourselves, conciseness is best, and that we must think outside the box in order to succeed. All of these lessons are invaluable when writing pieces of literature.
Though these lessons are excellent teachings for inside the classroom, they are also life lessons that everyone can learn from. We must be able to leave the past behind, not sugarcoat things, and to defy authority when necessary. Literature is a representation of life, and we must always learn from both.
In Ms. Borger’s classroom, she has often told her class to laugh at a particular student. She does not do this to make the student feel bad. Ms. Borger tells us that we all have to be able to laugh at ourselves. This is very true in writing. Writers check their work constantly, and they cannot let themselves be brought down by one of their pieces of writing. They must be able to get up, move on, and try again.
This lesson is also true in life. We all are going to make mistakes, and some are going to be bigger than others. However, we mustn’t let ourselves get depressed because of them. We have to get on with our lives, in the hopes that one day, we can look back on that moment and laugh.
Conciseness is always best when writing. Ms. Borger told us that we need to be precise. I once thought that wordiness was eloquent. Ms. Borger rectified that mistake. She says that clarity and preciseness are better than eloquent wording. Writers must get to the point, have a narrow focus, and try not to ramble on about unrelated topics.
Conciseness is also useful when interacting with people. Nobody likes it when the person he/she is talking to beats around the bush. Doctors, for instance, cannot use euphemisms like, “He’s no longer with us,” because the family of the deceased may not understand. The world would be so much easier to live in if no one generalized or used vague terms.
In my opinion, the most important lesson I’ve learned in Honors English is that we must think outside of the box and defy authority. In “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, the farm animals became slaves to the pigs because they never questioned their leaders. In “Dead Poets Society”, a teenager defied his controlling father because he wanted to be an actor, and his father wouldn’t allow it. As one who writes about politics, sometimes it’s best to be different. Sometimes it’s best to tell the unpopular truth.
Thinking outside of the box is something everyone should do. Ms. Borger teaches that we should always ask, “Why?” because when we don’t, tyrants are made. People who question are the ones who destroy dictatorships. Questioning keeps one free from propaganda and unfair treatment.
Literature is a representation of life. Ms. Borger helped me realize that we must always look forward, get to the point, and that we must always question authority. These lessons apply to literature, but they also apply to life. Human lives are very short. We cannot possibly live through every scenario we wish to live through. However, we can read about others. That is the universal lesson I have learned in Honors English. By reading, we learn about paths we should or should not take. That way, we can make our lives the best they can possibly be.