I love reading. There have been very few books that I've ever put down without finishing once I started them. And with a few of those, it wasn't a desire to not read the book as much as the knowledge that now was not the right time for me to read the book.
Despite this, the English classes I ended up taking in high school had teachers that were generally more focused on writing than reading. In fact, I only remember reading 1. Romeo and Juliet (9th grade, I loved it) 2. Julius Caesar (10th grade, no strong feelings one way or the other) and 3. To Kill a Mockingbird (11th grade, loved the story, have the book now). My senior year, I think we read a few short stories, but most of the class was focused on writing.
I never had a long list of required reading books (I only had short lists of required reading in college). I've not really had long discussions on themes or what the author meant when he or she said this or that (other than while reading Shakespeare's plays). Every time I pick up a book, the judgements I make as I read are purely my own.
I'm not sure if I should feel that I've missed something. I am content to judge a book solely on my own experience with it, even if I'm not quite sure how to explain my experience or thoughts to others. I know what I like, even if I can't always explain why I like it (that's a lot like licorice, come to think of it).
I assume that there were English teachers in my high school that did focus a bit more on reading than writing. I know that I left high school with the ability to write a well-structured paragraph that could fill a page. I also knew how to write a research paper (my 11th and 12th grade classes both wrote a class research paper), something that came in handy while I was a college.
I, obviously, no longer regularly write page long paragraphs. I haven't needed to write a research paper since I finished my English classes in college. And I've continued to read just about any type of book I could get my hands on (I have yet to try a western). It seems that my English teachers didn't teach much that I still use (and completely ignored something I loved even then). But maybe it's for the best. Maybe if I had to read a long list of books for school I wouldn't find reading as fun as I still do.
Do English teachers still give reading lists? Or has that gone away?
M.A. Smith, bookworm
P.S.: I do still use the touch typing I learned in high school. I'm so glad I took that typing/computer class.