Why is it important for students to view themselves as writers?
When students see themselves as writers, they begin to take ownership of their texts in a new way. The texts are no longer simply attempts to fulfill an assignment and earn a grade; instead, they become a student's attempt to express how they see the world around them. When a student views herself as a writer, she is empowered to be more active in the writing process: she becomes much more willing to revise and rewrite in order to persuasively make her point. Each new paper represents an opportunity to know oneself and make oneself known to others.
What can we gain from reading old or ancient literature, texts written about a world in which we no longer live?
The more we read old or ancient literature, the more we begin to realize that the human experience is similar no matter when those humans live. Reading the experiences of characters' whose lives seem so very different from our own can help us to develop a broader worldview as well as empathy. Moreover, we will often see that, though the details of a life may be unlike ours, human emotion and desire and struggle remains the same. For example, we may not be able to relate directly to Odysseus's need to triumph over those monsters, but his desire to return home to his loved ones is something many of us can understand. In this sense, then, we see that little has changed in the last 2000 years: we still make mistakes, suffer for our arrogance, rely on others for help, and long to be among those we love and who love us. Literature shows us how similar we really are.
When so many new professions require math, science, and engineering skills, why is it still a worthwhile pursuit to study English?
No matter the subject, the ability to communicate one's thoughts and ideas clearly and accurately is necessary. An engineer who cannot explain her designs intelligibly is going to be far less successful than one who can. A math teacher might be brilliant, but if he is unable to communicate effectively with his students, they will learn little. In whatever field, at whatever level, the ability to use language well is crucial to one's success.