Honors Students = Auto Mechanics

Hard to believe, but it’s already that time of year when my students are required to choose courses for next year. Many are wondering if an advanced class is a good fit, so they come seeking advice.

Many factors determine whether a student should enroll in honors/Advanced Placement, including past performance in our department, passion for the subject matter, rigor of other courses filling the schedule, insanity of the kid’s extracurricular schedule, and family expectations. I’ve found, though, that a simple analogy can clarify the issue for many of those should-I-or-shouldn’t-I students. Here’s what I tell them:

Imagine that you really like cars. Ask yourself, “What is it about cars that I like so much?”

Do you like cars because you enjoy the wind-your-hair freedom of the road?
Do you like cars because they efficiently take you from Point A to Point B?
Or do you like cars because you’re fascinated by the mechanics of how they work?

Just as good mechanics love nothing more than to pop a car’s hood and tinker with the parts as they learn to make a V8 hum, our honors students should ache to get messy examining the nuts and bolts of good writing.

If you have a student who loves to read but isn’t really interested in understanding how a writer constructs a fluid and engaging text, then that student should consider stepping away from the honors track because there’s a huge difference between devouring the Divergent series in a weekend and digging deep into Dickens. That’s just my advice anyway, but they did ask.

Teach on, everyone!

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