Hi guys! 😀
Remember that time, about a month ago, when I said I was going to start posting more discussions? No? I don’t either. That’s because I haven’t. 😳 So today I’m going to remedy that! *balloons* XD
Today’s topic: reading classics in school
This discussion was inspired by me reading Romeo and Juliet for my English class. Pretty much every high school in America (and maybe other countries) reads Shakespeare in their English/literature classes, and a variety of other classics as well. And pretty much every student (but maybe not all) despises (at least) this aspect of the class.
My question is: why do we read classics in school?
I’ve heard that it’s because they’re iconic pieces of literature that students should know about. Because they have great morals and lessons that still apply to our modern world. But not because teachers / school board members believe the students will enjoy it.
Shouldn’t that matter too?
In English/literature classes, reading goes about like this:
- Read the book.
- Take notes on the plot, characters, climactic moments, foreshadowing, allusions, and/or other things while reading.
- Take quizzes on material while reading and a big test after finishing the book.
- Analyze the book.
- Complete some sort of big project after reading the book, like an essay, a presentation, or something else.
I can probably count on one hand the amount of students that enjoy that process. Sure, school isn’t meant to be totally fun, but there should be something for students to look forward to. There isn’t a lot of room for creativity in other necessary subjects, like math, science, or history, but there is in English. So why do we read classics?
So far in my junior high and high school experience, I’ve read four classics: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Animal Farm by George Orwell, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. I only enjoyed one. (And if you follow my blog, you’ll know which one.) While it’s possible for students to be pleasantly surprised by a classic, like I was, it’s very unlikely.
And with this mindset, I came up with an idea: not being forced to read classics. If there are students that want to read them, create a separate class. That way students can choose whether or not they want to read classics. In regular English/literature classes, we can read YA.
The only real concern I can think of is that YA might be seen as “offensive” or “not innocent.” But there’s nothing YA has that classics don’t.
My evidence of that:
- “Dystopian books shouldn’t be read.” 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are both dystopian, and they’re popular reads in many places that haven’t banned them.
- “Some YA covers dark topics.” Pretty much all of Shakespeare’s tragedy plays end with nearly everyone dead. The entire second half of To Kill a Mockingbird covers a rape case.
- “Some YA includes profane/obscene topics.” Again, I’ll bring up To Kill a Mockingbird. Not only is it partially about a rape case, but it also talks about racism in the Southern U.S. during the Great Depression. The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye are both said to be very obscene, and the former includes alcoholics and some sexual references. Romeo and Juliet has a few crude jokes, and I’m sure other Shakespearean works do as well. Not to mention, Paris is a little bit creepy for wanting to marry and sleep with a 13 year old girl. (Paris is from Romeo and Juliet, if you didn’t know.)
- “Fantasy books shouldn’t be read.” A Midsummer Night’s Dream has fairies, tricks, love potions, and a queen that falls in love with a donkey-headed man. If that’s not fantasy, what is?
And if all of those are allowed, why shouldn’t reading YA be an option as well?
I’ve said my piece. What are your thoughts? Have/did you read classics in school? Did you like them, or would you prefer if YA was an option? I’d love to know! 🙂
I’m off to make dinner and continue reading Oblivion by JLA, because unfortunately finals have me still reading it. (And it’s 1,000+ pages in e-book form.) I hope you enjoyed this discussion, and that you’re all having a terrific day/night! ❤
Until next time…