December 28th, 2008

guilty bookie

No, really. What is this?

I've been doing quite a bit of reading over the past few days. Among other things, I read Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, which my brother had to read over the summer for his 11th grad honors English class. The only reason I remember this is because he showed me the list, and I noticed that he had some different books. I told him that I'd just let him borrow the ones I had (which were the same ones I had to read), and he could just get the others because he'd never touch them again anyway. The book I just finished reading is one of them.

I nearly fell asleep while reading the first chapter. "Okay," I told myself. "I'm giving this thing to about page twenty. If it doesn't get good by then, I'm putting it down and giving it away." Luckily, it got good, although I found myself more interested in the present trial than the past incidents that showed the relationships between the characters. But that changed every five minutes, depending on what was going on.

However, when I was reading, I found the letter sent to the class from said English teacher. He wasn't the same teacher as the one I had for that class, who was great. (He did have that teacher for AP Lit the next year, though.) Here are some choice bits.

"Dear prospective students, You have made the colossal mistake of registering to take 11th grade honors literature and composition next year. To put into words the monumental task that lies ahead of you is truly impossible, so forgive me for not attempting to do so. For me to say "excellent choice" or "way to go" or utter any other such platitude would be going against my malevolent nature for the sake of inflating your already magnified ego; never may that happen! You are in for a very difficult, mentally grueling and emotionally strenuous semester which will most definitely claim the delicate minds of many of your fellow classmates. The eternal question is "Do you have what it takes?"

Terrified yet? I hope not. The introduction was merely an attempt to sift the rubbish from the valuable stone (somewhere a student is crying in agony over being accused of having a magnified ego).

[blah blah blah letter]

In order to take honors lit, you will be expected to meet the following requirements:

1. Read four pieces of literature during the summer. [list of books]

2. Keep a journal (preferably typed) of interesting and significant quotes as you read. [blahblah requirements] In summary, you should find six quotes for each novel or play and then respond to two of those quotes for each piece of literature. For those two quotes, attach a photo or piece of artwork that visually represent them.
[Man, I wish I had it this easy when I took the class.]

3. Take a test during the first week of school on each of the required readings. [blahblah tests] In order to stay in the honors class, you will be required to pass a minimum of two of these exams.
[Fine, I think that's what we had to do too.]

4. Become very familiar with the contemporary albums August and Everything After by Counting Crows, No Name Face by Lifehouse, The Futures by Jimmy Eat World, and any single by the artist (I giggle as I write this) Britney Spears. Draft an essay explaining the connection this music has to American culture, the human experience, and the shaping of universal society. Make sure to use direct quotes. Be prepared to share."

Yeah, not kidding. For reference, he took this class sometime during the 2005-2006 year, and from what I heard, it was a joke. I still haven't decided whether this is more or less work than the hardcore notecards (lined and a certain size, too) we had to do on characters, themes, settings, and just about everything else imaginable in my honors lit classes. They were talking about getting rid of the notecards for less grunt work, but this just makes me laugh, as I'm pretty sure most of it never came up again.

This just amuses me, though.