The Bride of the First House (bride) wrote,
The Bride of the First House

Failing English

weather: mostly sunny
outside: 17°C
mood: ...
There are recurring memes going around LJ. And one of the recurring directives seems to be: "Tell something about yourself that others may not have known."

Mine — I nearly failed English every year from Grade 9 to 11. And I'm not talking about my standard of "fail" which was "below 90%". I'm talking about the standard school failing grade of 50%.

They kept assigning me to the same teacher. Stupid me, didn't ask to transfer and, not knowing the language, my parents were completely helpless in the situation as well.

One year, I passed by special permission from the English Department Head (either Jim S. or Bryant K. at the time, it was confusing as to who exactly was the Head). I spoke to Bryant K. He basically had to review all my essays, assignments and tests. I remember being so relieved when he said he was confused as to why I was failed and that he would have graded me much higher than that.

Spelling and grammar were never a problem. To me, spelling tests were a question of how many tests I can score perfect in a row. And I've inherited my Dad's GrammarWhore-ness, except for English instead of Chinese.

I actually did every single assignment. I handed them in, on time, every time. I even went to her several times before to due date to show her what I had to make sure I was on track. And she would always say I was "on track". And yet, I always straddled the 50% passing mark.

I know English is fairly subjective. I know that "trying hard" doesn't necessarily equate to "doing well". Although, at a highschool level, the material isn't difficult so "trying hard" and "doing well" should go hand-in-hand. I know I didn't do as well as I did in say, Math or Physics. But if you have a second opinion and that second opinion says you should have gotten a much higher mark, then you have to wonder what the hell is going on.

Most of the kids that he had to review were the juvenile delinquents in the making who don't hand in their assignments or really do a craptacular job when they do. So, yeah, I was the biggest confusion of his life. Here's a kid who tried hard, wrote decent stuff, neatly, in full sentences, etc. But, he said he couldn't give me a grade that was too high because that would have raised all kinds of red flags about Margaret K. and they didn't want to have to re-grade all of her students. I passed with a low C instead of failing with a D. At that point, I was thrilled to pass at all.

I took a remedial English class that summer because it was recommended for students who failed or barely passed. I had never done so well in English in my life. In summer school, they only give you a "Pass" or a "Fail" grade. But I kept track of the score on all my assignments, quizzes and tests. By my calculations, I had a 97.3% average which was even a Pass by my standards.

Everyone and their dog was asking me just what the hell I was doing there. The program director. The teacher. And the big grunge/goth girl with thick eyeliner and black lipstick who was easily double my size in every dimension. Tara was cool, though. =)

Tags: open-ended surveys, reminiscence

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