Be Your Own Tour Guide

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"Instead of persuading undergraduate English majors to buy into the fallacy that a checklist approach to English literature adds up to an education, let's borrow a page from the travel agency and organize our courses into package tours: organized, structured, carefully chosen, and thematic routes through otherwise difficult-to-navigate territory."

-From Tim Lemire's I'm an English Major---Now What?  chapter 10 "Avoiding a Major Mistake," page 217

 

I really liked this comment from Lemire.  When I first chose English Literature as my major, I looked at the list of required courses and thought "This is not going to help me with my goal of being an elementary teacher!  This not even a very practical major unless you want to be a college professor or a high school teacher."  However, then I noticed the section in the course catalogue that says "choose nine credits from courses numbered EL250 or above."  There are so many options in this area that I can take courses such as Linguistics and others that will actually help me as a future teacher.  Also, there are many special topics classes for me to choose from each semester that pertain to subjects in which I am interested.  I can even take courses that are tailored more towards the Journalism or Creative Writing majors in order to gain experience in these fields.  I certainly hope that all English majors realize that they are able to tailor their major to their interests and future goals and not take only the courses that are listed in the course catalogue under English Literature, New Media Journalism, or Creative Writing.

7 Comments

Ste said:

I don't think Lemire could have stated that better himself :)

Greta Carroll said:

Erica, I could be wrong, but I don’t think “the pick 9 credits from courses numbered EL250 and above” applies to English Literature Education majors, I think that is just for English Literature majors. If you look in the course handbook under “Education—English” the only choices presented are one out of The Writing of Fiction, The Writing of Poetry, and Magazine Writing; and one from between European Literature and Topics in World Literature. I mean you can obviously still choose to take those other credits, but I don’t think it is part of the requirements to do so

Erica Gearhart said:

Greta thanks for the comments. I took a look at it in case I was wrong, but I actually do have to take the courses required for the English major. I have to have a major and area for certification because I want to teach elementary school. Unlike the Education Certifications for the secondary level, there is no distinction for the elementary level. I hope to be certified in Elementary, Special, and Early Childhood, so I will be able to teach (and I hate to use these terms but they are the easiest to use for descriptions) regular education students from birth to sixth grade and special education students from birth to age 21 (as long as the state doesn't change anything in the near future). In order to be hired by a public school to teach Special Education, I am required by the state to be "highly skilled in a content area," so I have chosen to get a BA in English.

I know it is so confusing! It took me so long to understand, but this is how the program is here. It is also a pain because my education credits alone total about 90, which in itself is like two normal majors. Then I have the 40 or so from English Literature. Thank goodness some overlap.

I do like this program though because it gives me lots of options. If I decide not to go into teaching, I still have a BA and experience in English Literature that can help me to get a job. People at other schools who major in elementary education do not have this flexibility.

Also, if you take a look at the catalog, I believe that it says the teaching certification in secondary English doesn't get you a BA degree either. There is a note that English Literature majors still have to meet the other requirements if they want a Bachelors degree too. I don't know if this concerns you, but if it does, I would just verify it with your education advisor.

Thanks so much for the comment! If you find out anything different than what I said, let me know.

Angelica Guzzo said:

I agree. I too came to Seton Hill wandering what i'm going to do with a degree in english when all i want to do is be an elementary teacher. It is a wonderful thing that some classes overlap. You have provided great ideas for classes to take.

Greta Carroll said:

Wow, that sounds like you do have a lot on your plate! I didn't realize that elementary/special ed. had to do so much! And, I am sorry my comment was not actually helpful. When I met with my advisors they made a schedule for the rest of my 4 years and those 9 other credits were not included...so I'm not sure what that means. But it is definitely something I need to check on. So I am glad you wrote back and let me know about that, I might need to fit some other classes in somehow. Thanks for explaining that to me, I wasn't sure, that's why I left the comment. So thanks for answering! You might very well have saved me from some trouble in the future!

In the English Lit major, we are pretty flexible, and want you to be able to take courses that interest you, which is why we have those 9 credits in any course 250 or above. But the state requirements for certification are fairly strict. If there is a course you really want to take, it might be possible to substitute it for something else, but you'd need to check with your ed adviser. I know it's confusing! It will be slightly less confusing each time you schedule for courses...

I really liked this comment from Lemire as well. It's kind of like having a custom education. Sure, we have our majors and minors and certifications, but within those limits we are able to choose some of our classes. The same is true for the Creative Writing minor. This is the only required class that I have to take (which I would have taken anyway because it's pretty essential to all the classes that come after it) and the rest I get to choose from include classes about Writing Fiction, Writing Poetry, and from what I've heard, there's even subdivisions within those divisions! It's a good feeling to know that you are in control of your future.

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Erica Gearhart on Be Your Own Tour Guide: Greta thanks for the comments.
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Ste on Be Your Own Tour Guide: I don't think Lemire could hav