History vs. English

Recently I have heard a lot about how some history teachers are now teaching English classes. Yes, I am very aware of the economic times we are in and know that schools have to make tough decisions and do what they need to for success. I also am aware that some English and history teachers do intertwine their work (which makes sense as I’ve stated before) and teach both courses simultaneously. However, I’m just confused about how some schools would think that a history certification gives someone the pedagogical foundation to teach an English class.

All of these thoughts stemmed from a talk with my BFF History Teacher. Apparently one of her colleagues is teaching history and language arts. Shocked, I asked her how that was possible since the colleague only had a history background. She said that it was actually common in some cases due to budget cuts, etc. I’m still shocked.

I mean, I was offered a few jobs where I would be working with AP courses and co-teaching with a history teacher for a humanities based history/English class, but never was I told, “Oh, you will teach English and history separately.” And no offense to any history or English teachers out there, but I personally know that I would not feel 110% comfortable walking into a history-only classroom with my English background. Yes, I read and write (quite well in fact) BUT I do not feel qualified to teach history. (After all, my license and my degrees are all in English!)

So after my initial shock, I am over it. Besides, if you think about it, I was once told that English is a part of history because we are reading history (if that makes sense – part sarcasm, part seriousness). However, I still think there is a difference. And somewhere inside of me, I’m still bothered by the idea that history teachers (or anyone for that matter) can just walk into an English classroom and teach. To me, personally, it’s a bit degrading. After all, I went through an English Education program and worked hard on English “strategies” for a reason. I understand that everyone has a different journey into the classroom, but the fact that I was really good at solving advanced calculus equations, or reciting famous speeches, or dissecting pigs with precision does not mean that I should just jump into a math/history/science/etc. classroom. Yes, I could do it, BUT I believe that there is a skill to teaching certain subjects.

To just say that anyone with a teaching license can teach kids how to “read and write” doesn’t make sense to me…English class is much more than just reading and writing (or at least it should be).


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