Tuesday, April 12, 2016

But What Good Is an English Major

  • Ian Andrew's seminar title in full was - "But What Good Is an English Major – A Homeschool Graduate Reflects on the Benefits of a Literary Education", which was timely, because I had been wondering the same thing. In high school, I wracked up more English credits than p.e. and all my enrichments combined (I had to count my English credits as electives; otherwise, I didn't have enough to graduate). My oldest is the same way: literature is her thing.

Ian Andrews is the son of Adam and Missy Andrews, of Center for Lit fame. This was his first speaking engagement at a homeschool conference. His big question was – “Why get an education when you can train for a career?” As the child of two literature buffs, the first lesson he learned was to “sit still and pay attention”. This lesson served him well in his life, and he believes this is something all English majors learn to do.

Ian gave a demonstration in front of the class of true literary analysis – one that uses our thinking skills and helps us to gain appreciation for great literature, rather than killing it. Led through the Scarlet Letter, we understood the characters and setting, the plot arch through its rising action, and the (many possible) turning points of the novel. We saw what Hawthorne was really getting at through the trials and tribulation, to bring us into a deeper understanding of his real theme: truth, freedom, and forgiveness.

He said not to believe the hype that English majors cannot find jobs. English majors are in demand, as they have the skills necessary to thrive in the workplace.

English majors possess these skills:

  • People persons. They’ve already interacted with a wide range of personalities – the Hester Pryns, the Dimmsdales, the Chillingsworths, and the Goodwives of our current age – and they know how to get along with all of them.

  • Good communication skills. English majors can write clearly, accurately, and persuasively, which is invaluable in jobs.

  • Sit still and pay attention. English majors have sat and paid attention through some very difficult literature. Non-lit people tend to struggle with focus.

What does an English major bring to a job interview that no one else does?

  • Listening skills. The interviewee will listen to what the job entails and will ask good questions about the job.

  • Tools to learn. The English major has the tools to learn anything they put their mind to.

  • Will know that they don’t know everything. The average interviewee assumes that they need to know everything already, and that will be obvious in the interview. The English major, however, recognizes that they don’t know everything and isn’t afraid to admit their lack of experience. They are ready and able to learn new things, and can quickly add to their skill set; making them an invaluable asset in the workplace.

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