I miss the days in 2nd grade when, on my report card, the teacher would make comments such as "Has talented writing skills" or "Is an avid reader." Writing and reading felt natural and eyeopening, and I was eager to do both. I was allowed ample opportunity to write stories in my journal and read books from the classroom book collection for sometimes hours at a time.
It feels as though all of that has changed. Beginning in 6th grade, I have noticed that teachers no longer care about individual student talents and aspirations, but instead grade students uniformly based on the amount of work that they produce. Writing assignments are limited only to analysis of readings with particular emphasis on standard quotation and citation, and reading assignments are limited only to selected classics of literature that the student may not feel interested in. A shift in focus from pursuing natural interests to completing rote tasks is achieved.
In the rare event that a creative writing assignment is given to students, the criteria similarly follow the pattern of roteness in upper-level English class curricula. I recount the anticipation I felt upon receiving an assignment about writing a creative story for class, and was immediately let down when I saw that the assignment included unnecessary and meaningless criteria, such as using selected vocabulary words in the story. As I progressed through grade levels in school, I observed that assignments have become more forced and unnatural in their nature.
This is particularly a problem in the case of writing college application essays, in which students are encouraged to talk about themselves. The student, at this point having done many objective research papers and essays on analysis of literature, sees the sudden requirement of having to write about oneself incredibly foreign. Since when are students given the opportunity to write personally about themselves? I see this as a failure not of the student's, but of the curriculum to provide a means for students to develop their natural writing skills instead of learning a forced way of commentating objectively on other people's writings.
I now have come to dislike English class for this reason.