Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

Teacher Trouble

60second Recap on getting along with your teacherI am currently taking AP English Lit and my teacher is incredibly tough. I feel like every time I throw out an idea that I have spent hours researching and developing that she sees it as wrong. Now I would like to think of myself as an analytical person, however I am having problems formulating my ideas and getting them on paper. When we are reading a novel or a poem, I can understand that something is significant and symbolic in some way, but I have a lot of trouble articulating my ideas and writing them out in an essay that will not make my teacher want to give me a C. Now we generally only have 40 minutes to write and essay for her so I think part of the problem could be stress, but my main goal when I write is to put something down that is at the same level as the other students in my class. So, any advice? –S.B., USA


Teacher Trouble Ask the Recap

Read the signals, get the grade.

Wouldn’t life be so much less stressful if we could read teachers’ minds? Thankfully, you don’t need a superhero power to figure out what your teacher wants. All you have to do is read the signals.

Some teachers do want you to be creative in your paper-writing—to stretch yourself, and to come up with a really creative position on a topic. Most of my teachers did. I could tell, because the more I pushed my analysis, the more enthusiastic they became.

Then, along came my Shakespeare teacher. On my first paper, I received the lowest grade I’d ever gotten in an English class, along with a note from him: Not what we discussed in class.

Huh? It threw me—and made me mad. He just wanted me to parrot back our class discussions, with a little bit of additional analysis for good measure? It was hard to believe, but on my next paper, that’s exactly what I did. Voila! I was rewarded with an A.

I felt a little gross about it, to be honest. Why was I changing my approach to writing just to suit him? But it occurred to me that just as I would do things the way a boss wanted me to do them in a job—even if I didn’t agree with my boss’s method—I needed to approach school, my current job, with the same kind of flexibility.

Ultimately, life in general is about reading the signals. It’s about finding out what the person in charge wants, and then making him or her very, very happy when you do things exactly as-requested.

That doesn’t mean you can’t bring some of your own personal flair to your work. As I discovered with my Shakespeare teacher, he liked it when I stuck to the topics we’d discussed in class, then brought added insight, maybe even a surprising angle, to my papers.

But ultimately, Job #1 was to make sure I was doing what he asked, in the way he wanted things done. Maybe it didn’t teach me a lot about Shakespeare, but it did teach me a lot about succeeding in life.

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