• Anne Jing

English Class is the Most Important Class - Coming from a STEM Student

This is the blog post I wish I read during grade 12 AP English class.

As I finish my first year of Engineering Science at the University of Toronto, I have summed up 8 months worth of theoretical sciences and pure mathematics in one sentence - English class was the most important class in high school.

Now don't get me wrong, physics and calculus will be your best friend in Engineering but university professors will teach you all the quantum mechanics, linear algebra, and ordinary differential equations you will need to know to solve a problem. But, no one will teach you how to write a clean and concise report. Most projects require some sort of written component and professors simply cannot see the ingenious methods used through a messy report that is littered with grammatical and syntax errors.

"But why do I need to analyze Shakespeare if I'm going into science?"

Although it’s true that Shakespeare makes very rare appearances in modern engineering and science, for me, I’ve realized that its not about what you write but rather how you write about it. I must admit, I forgot the motifs in The Book of Negro and the passages in Othello but it was through these book reports and essays that I got to practice concise and clear writing, critical thinking, and abstract thinking that would later be an absolute treasure in engineering report writing. Think about it; the recognition of a reoccurring object or colour in a novel is actually trivial. What's critical is the process of connecting these dots to find a deeper meaning in the novel. This process of continuously asking and seeking why and how is the overarching premise in STEM research.

As I reflect back on my year, the most frustrating constraint when completing an assignment isn't the due date - it's the word/page limit. There have been projects where I was required to explain 3 months worth of research in less than 4 pages. When you are currently writing on the 7th page of a document that has a limit of 4 pages, you will be extremely glad that your high school English teacher emphasized "cleaning up sentences" in your Shakespeare essay.

I would like to say, however, that I'm not saying to neglect mathematics and physics but rather to simply not dismiss English class so fast simply because "you're a STEM student".

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