An English Education

Robert Frost

“There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.” – Robert Frost

When the topic of my chosen career path surfaces, I tend to get the same responses:

A sizzling sound made with the lips as if something or someone is burning.

A sympathetic hand that embraces my shoulder.

Usually the response is accompanied by a statement along the lines of “Wow, high school English huh? You’re brave. I could never do that” said almost as if I was donating one of my kidneys.

I must admit that I initially started out as an English Literature major. I wanted to become a writer. I wanted to spend my days sitting beneath trees, or walking alongside a lake with moments of inspiration captivating me into fits full of words and splendor.

Yet, something was picking at my side, and to be honest, some of it involved the haunting echoes of my family asking, “What are you going to do about money, Lauren?” But if you’ve read my biography, you’ll know that most of my educators influenced my passion for writing.  I sat back one day in my chair and I thought, “What is it that you are truly passionate about, Lauren?” and when it came down to the answer, I realized that I am more passionate about my ever-growing ability to write rather than writing itself. I sometimes wonder where I would be without a notebook, without a word document, or more importantly without the ability to articulate words to form pieces of intricate details that embroider the influx of my emotions and thoughts. Can you imagine how it must feel to have such a strong sensation to express yourself through words, but the well of words being completely dry? I have nightmares about such things! I once had a nightmare that I couldn’t read and I awoke gasping as if someone had choked the life out me.  I want to teach. Mostly because I become so horrified by the idea of who I would be without my ability to read and write that I feel it is my civic duty to ensure that the rest of our children have the same opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that English Education is superior to English Literature. I absolutely love literature, but it would be a most divine world if I was able to inspire students to be just as passionate, if not interested in the wealth that literature has to offer. I once heard a student remark in class, “Hey, some of the best authors were English teachers.” And in fact, they were. Here’s a list of some famous writers and poets that have taught, or continue to teach English:

Robert Frost

Sir William Golding

D.H. Lawrence

George Orwell

Stephen King

J.K. Rowling

Some authors that are currently teaching are:

Zadie Smith at New York University

Junot Diaz at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

and one of my favorite authors –

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, author of Devil on the Cross and Petals of blood. He is currently a professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Irvine. I’ve made a note to crash one of his lectures, if ever possible.

– Lauren Sumabat

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