Before I even start with the subject of the blog I am going to say this. You could pay me three times what teachers currently make and I still wouldn't take the job. I know that they don't make the decisions about the reading material.
Now for the good stuff. I was listening to my two sons discuss my younger sons upcoming grade 10 english exam. It doesn't appear to me that much has changed in the way of the acceptable books included in the curriculum. "To Kill a Mockingbird", "The Great Gatsby", and "The Lord of the Flies", were all titles that came up. These were titles that were being read when I was in High School 30 years ago. I was also subjected to "Animal Farm" and "Of Mice and Men". I am an avid reader. I love to read and both of my sons are also dedicated readers. They are not dedicated readers because of the school system. They love to read because, at a very young age, I introduced them to the magic of books.
Even though they love to read, they were, like me, less than thrilled with the choices available in academic level english. Is there an unwritten rule that says "required reading has to be a chore?" Why have these old boring books not been replaced with more modern titles offering the same lessons? Are you going to try to tell me that no worthy books dealing with the topic of racial discrimination have been published since 1960 when "To Kill a Mockingbird" was first published? Surely there have been dozens of books with similar themes and more interesting plots to today's teen than this choice. I was surprised that my older son actually said that Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale", was not totally repulsive. I would rather eat 7 day old liver and spinach 7 days a week than read anything written by this so called Canadian Icon!
So why have the people at the helm in the public school system decided to keep the "oldies but goodies"? Well to start with, there are swears in most modern novels. (Oh my goodness whatever will we do?). And there are sexual overtones and suggestions. (Doesn't the described rape in "To Kill a Mockingbird" count as disturbing and explicit?) Good Grief! School is mandatory but that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. If two avid readers can hardly stomach the reading content I can only imagine how it must be for teens who don 't normally read. My younger son has informed me that he has lost his desire to read as much as he used to because of his association with mandatory reading of mundane, old, mind numbing so called classics.
This opinion will be applauded by many and scorned by others. Be that as it may, I believe in giving students enjoyable choices of reading that they may actually learn from.
One Mother's opinion.