Follow Hot English Topics on NEHS Social Media

National English Honor Society (NEHS) is on social media and we’re waiting for you! Over the past year NEHS social media has stepped up its game. In addition to our existing Facebook and Twitter accounts, we have joined forces with our sponsoring organization, Sigma Tau Delta, to create joint accounts under the name EnglishMatters across several new social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Just find and follow us on the platforms you currently use for updates on society news. NEHS social media also posts about hot topics in the field of English such as STEAM, college admissions/college transition, EdTech, careers for English majors, pedagogy, grammar, and English humor. If you aren’t following NEHS social media yet, here is a sampling of some of the great content you have been missing:

What Can I Do with an English Major

“The story of the unemployable English major is both powerful and damaging, since students are more than ever concerned that their choice of degree will lead to successful employment—reasonably so considering the lingering effects of the recession and the high cost of postsecondary education in the US. Hence it behooves us to counter the belief that English majors can’t get a job.” Keep reading

The View from Hemingway’s Attic: Political Correctness in Novels

“I was reading Chad Harbach’s novel The Art of Fielding and cruising along and then I just stopped. I had tripped over a word and at first I thought it was a typo, something that slipped through the proof reader if there is such a person anymore. But then I realized the word was intentional and that the novel had fallen victim to the dictates of political correctness.” Keep reading

The Decline and Fall of the English Major

“In the past few years, I’ve taught nonfiction writing to undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard, Yale, Bard, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t.” Keep reading

English Teacher’s Hip-Hop Curriculum Gets Students Writing

“With new academic standards ratcheting up literacy expectations, many teachers are looking for ways to engage students more deeply in writing and reading assignments.

Lauren Leigh Kelly, an English teacher at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, NY, and an adjunct English instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University, has found that incorporating rap and hip-hop culture into the literacy curriculum can help connect instruction to students’ individual backgrounds and foster their interest in writing.” Keep reading

Flannery O'Connor writing quoteWant to Write Better? Read Better Writing.

“Reading is a critical skill taught in elementary and secondary school. As children, we start with the ABCs and work up to classics such as Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’ After graduation, however, many individuals stop thinking about the importance of what they read. Yet the quality of what one reads directly affects the complexity of his or her writing, according to a new study in the International Journal of Business Administration.” Keep reading

Study Finds Allowing Devices in Classrooms Hurts Academic Performance

“When faculty members at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point took away students’ computers and tablets in an introductory economics courses, their students’ grades jumped.” Keep reading

To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf

“The humanities are kaput. Sorry, liberal arts cap-and-gowners. You blew it. In a software-run world, what’s wanted are more engineers. At least, so goes the argument in a rising number of states, which have embraced a funding model for higher education that uses tuition ‘bonuses’ to favor hard-skilled degrees like computer science over the humanities. The trend is backed by countless think pieces. ‘Macbeth does not make my priority list,’ wrote Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and the author of a widely shared blog post titled ‘Is Majoring in Liberal Arts a Mistake for Students?’Keep reading

I'm just a Poe boy memeI Would Rather do Anything Else Than Grade Your Final Papers

“Dear Students Who Have Just Completed My Class, I would rather do anything else than grade your Final Papers. I would rather base jump off of the parking garage next to the student activity center or eat that entire sketchy tray of taco meat leftover from last week’s student achievement luncheon that’s sitting in the department refrigerator or walk all the way from my house to the airport on my hands than grade your Final Papers.” Keep reading

STEAM: The “A” Stands for the Arts

“Last week I wrote a post about STEM . . . how the emphasis in public education is on science, technology, engineering, and math . . . as being the appropriate preparation for today’s jobs. I do not disagree that these fields are where the jobs are. I do, however, think that the ability to communicate clearly is still important, as is the role of the arts in a well-rounded education.” Keep reading

An E-Book UI That Lets You Flip Digital Pages, Just Like a Real Book

“If a book is good, you should be so immersed in it that you don’t care how far you’ve read or how much further there is to go. Does that sound like a good rationalization for the generally terrible navigation schemes that we put up with in our e-books? I love my Kindle, but using percentages instead of page numbers makes me feel like I’m reading a calculator instead of a book.” Keep reading

sentence fragment someecards#Yodify your Grammar

“With the arrival of the anniversary of the initial release of the first Star Wars movie, we at Grammarly started to reflect on what makes the films so great. Being language lovers and word nerds at heart, we are particularly fascinated and charmed by the grammar of the great Jedi master, Yoda. To celebrate our love of Star Wars, we dissected a few classic Yoda-style quotes in order to better understand the patterns that #yodify the English language.” Keep reading

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Celebrate Banned Books with NEHS

As literature lovers, it is our instinctual response to regard Banned Books Week with a modicum of solemn reflection; a week when we think about the thousands of people unable to enrich their literary lives with profound works like Animal Farm, Lolita, and Harry Potter (my personal favorite). The loss of awareness is something all literary scholars dread and actively work to stave off. Emotionally, the idea of “banned books” hits upon a specific nerve found especially in those who deeply love the written word.

Read Banned Books

While I recognize the need for pensive contemplation, I propose that English students, academics, and aficionados adopt a new emotional regard for the week. Instead of thinking about the losses and setbacks caused by banned or burned books, we should observe the celebration of shifts in human ideology and history. Many books are banned because they conflict with historically sensitive events. When we’re still learning how to deal with these ideological conflicts, the literature supporting controversial beliefs is often the first thing to be villainized.

Banned Books PersepolisFor example, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, is a memoir detailing the author’s experiences growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The critically acclaimed text has received accolades for its honest and visceral depiction of such a politically charged and controversial historical moment. However, Persepolis is one of the most contested books of the past decade. Many reasons for banning the text stemmed from anti-Islam relations following a post 9/11 ideological shift. The lifted ban on Persepolis signaled the merit of Satrapi’s text and was indicative of the tensions between America and Iran at the time. In this case, and many others like it, literature and book-banning history reflected the tumultuous issues occurring in contemporary society.

Instead of looking at Banned Books Week as a solemn affair, let’s regard it as a symbolic indicator of human progress and achievement. If that doesn’t seem sufficient enough reason to celebrate, Banned Books Week exemplifies the dynamic power of literature as a touchstone for humanity.

Banned Books Persepolis comic

So celebrate by reading a recently challenged book, or just read Harry Potter again as I am doing.

Banned Books Week Social Media Contest

In celebration of Banned Books Week Sigma Tau Delta and National English Honor Society are teaming up to host a contest across our combined social media accounts. We want to hear about your favorite banned book! To participate you must tag us in a post about your favorite banned book on any of the following social media accounts:

In need of some inspiration for your post? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share a photo of your favorite banned book on Instagram
  • Share your favorite quote from a banned book on Twitter
  • Share your rationale against banning books, or banning a particular book, on Facebook
  • Send us a Snap talking about your favorite Banned Book

The contest will run from Sunday, September 25-Saturday, October 1. Everyone who participates during this time frame will be entered in a drawing to win one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. A $45 Amazon gift card also will be awarded to the best overall post. You may post to multiple accounts to improve your odds of winning, but please tell us about a different book in each post!

Banned Books Haley HelgesenHaley Helgesen
Student Representative, Midwestern Region, 2016-2017
Phi Delta Chapter
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

Intellectual Freedom: Support Banned Books Week

In fulfillment of the National English Honor Society‘s (NEHS) ambition to honor literature and promote free and open access to books, the Society endorses the American Library Association‘s celebration of Banned Books Week, held annually during the final week of September. Banned Books Week unites the greater book community in the shared endeavor to protect the right to express ideas, especially those considered unorthodox or unpopular. In celebration of Banned Books Week NEHS hosts the Intellectual Freedom Challenge, urging students to craft arguments in support of frequently contested books or those likely to be contested in the future.

Defend Banned BooksPrepare to Fight Banned Books

As the school year begins, teachers make decisions as they prepare to welcome students. Those decisions run from the way classrooms will be arranged to the scheduling of curricular units throughout the coming months. The selection of texts to assign students—the novels, plays, poems, short stories, and non-fiction pieces that are often the centerpieces of our discipline—is key to the decisions about curricula, particularly for English teachers. Teachers make those decisions by considering the students with whom they will work as well as the expectations of the unit of study. At times, teachers select texts that may, in the view of some, be controversial due to language used, action depicted, or thematic complexity contained. It seems wise for educators to have written and posted rationales for the use of all texts; such rationales should be an integral part of every English teacher’s files, reflecting the decision-making that goes into the selection of particular texts for study.

Read Banned BooksStudents should be engaged in the process of text selection and defense as well; we want all life-long readers to be informed consumers of texts, readers who investigate texts that challenge and clarify their own thinking and that open new realms of knowledge. As students are guided to read challenging and in some cases controversial texts, they begin to develop their own sense of appropriateness and, we hope, become defenders of the written and spoken word. Teachers serve as role models in this development. The future needs individuals to stand for the right to read that exists in a democratic country.

The 2016 Intellectual Freedom Challenge Contest

Timed to coincide each year with the celebration of Banned Books Week, scheduled this year from September 25-October 1, NEHS encourages participation in the Intellectual Freedom Challenge. Sophomore and junior members of NEHS are invited to submit essays dealing with a text that may be perceived by some as controversial. Students are to submit essays that delineate a careful argument for the inclusion of the text for classroom study or support restricting the text in some way. University professors who are members of Sigma Tau Delta and members of the National Advisory Council of NEHS will evaluate essays; the best essays will garner monetary awards for the students and their chapters. Essays may be submitted from October 3 through November 14.

Dave WendelinBy Dave Wendelin
NEHS Executive Director