Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bad Reviews of Great Authors

The Huffington Post has an amusing article titled "Bad Reviews Of Great Authors: 9 Scathing Insults" here.  I was amused because the majority of my students would have agreed with most of these insults.  Here is my comment on the article:

I think the point here isn't whether or not these criticisms are justified, but why a certain few books have been glorified and stuck in a high school curriculum for all students to read.

As a high school English teacher for 35 years, I can't tell you how many times I've tried to teach Gatsby. "Tried" is the operative word here. A few students will love it; many more will be indifferent; a few will actively hate it. 

Finally, I started teaching just short parts of required books, and assigning the students to find authors of their own that they could easily love. My classroom became flooded with exciting, wonderful authors--many of whom I didn't know at all. We all started reading like crazy.

I really think that the insistence on class-assigned reading of the canon is a major reason that SAT scores--all reading scores, really--have remained static or dropped over the years.

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