Monday, August 31, 2009

Literature- a dying art


That is the link to an article which proposes arguments that I find to go right along with the title I gave it.

I just found out from the NY Times (a personal favorite, although not necessarily a pure source of truth, mind you) that there is this revolution beginning in Middle School English in the US.  They let the kids pick what they want to read.  At first I was like, "Yay!  Duh!  Of course if you give kids options, they will be more vested in what they read; it's about time."  However this elation quickly faded when a teacher told of how instead of To Kill A Mockingbird (in my opinion, one of the greatest pieces of American literature), most of her students had opted to read the Captain Underpants series instead.

Excuse me?!?  First of all, I know that series is WAY below their grade reading level.  As if American kids don't get a crappy enough education already.  We're basically the only ones who aren't well versed in several languages by adulthood, the only ones who have the time and means to play record levels of video games and watch record levels of tv and eat and eat till we're all obese as heck and yet our test scores as compared to the rest of the world are well BELOW average.  We think we're SO great and world dominant, but China is coming and their students actually study! (But that's a way different topic)
(ancient library at Alexandria, from which there is a brick in the Washington Monument- so cool!)

I can understand when kids are in Elementary School and they may be at varying reading levels depending on what kind of learning was going on at home and they can basically choose among Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, etc.  At this age, most books are highly gender specific, so it is only fair to let them choose what they want to read.  And to be honest, I really don't think that there are ANY pieces of actually GOOD literature before about the Jr. High reading level.  Maybe the Little Prince, but they won't get the philosophy behind it anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Montessori and the choices granted kids in that philosophy of teaching, but the difference there is if the 5th grader picks up The Little Prince on his own accord, his "teacher" or whatever they call them in this system would then have the opportunity to actually explain to the 5th grader the philosophical meanings if he or she were interested since there would be no confining subjects that the teacher MUST stick to.  This is awesome.  If a kid is eating something up, feed them more- they have obviously discovered a talent or natural propensity.

On the other hand, classroom free-for-all where there is complete disregard for the classics once you are old enough to start appreciating them is completely unacceptable.  What separates our generation from the generations of the past?  In my opinion, we have completely lost our sense of the humanities.  The art, literature, music, and philosophy that our very society was built upon has been replaced by the mindless Backstreet Boys, Twilight, texting, and materialism of our day.

I cannot accept the fact that teachers would honestly let students abandon their societal roots for a picture book about toilets.  It's both humiliating and shocking.  The one student who picks up Dickens over Harper Lee is not worth the 25 others in the class who run for comic books as a replacement for their literary education.  This is not education.  This is the stupifying of our country right before our very eyes.


MAM said...

Glad you're getting settled into Law School Life...probably as the pace picks up you'll have less time for rhetoric...i.e. "Dying Literature" expose--well written I might add!
I'm off to Phoenix next Tues to help Brit sew his Halloween costume and then we all go over to the coast for weekend to rendevous with Patrick and Ali. THen he flies back to D.C. and I bring Ali and boys up here for short visit and to see Betsy. The rodeo is in town so I'm looking forward to John Patrick liking all the animals. A stop at Uncle Scott's firestation is a must, of course! I'll fly back with Ali to help with boys on 9/19 and turn around the following Wed. to come back so I can speak in church on 9/27 and my Humanitarian Service mission begins on 10/6...Love you, Aunt Margaret

Grandma Collene! said...

Oh my gosh we're doomed - you better hurry up and save this world, we're counting on you. gma

Kelli said...

you are soooooo right!

Rachel J said...

Dude, tell me about it, Linds. We have to bring books back.

Although, it turns out that Americans are not the #1 in video game playing. According to my brother Steve who knows every WOW statistic known to man, we're actually #5. We come right after the Phillipean Islanders. Kind of random. Then, in front of the Islanders, it's the Russians at #3. The Japanese take #2, and #1 goes to none other than the French, who beat the world record of playing WOW for three weeks straight without stopping.

They pooped in buckets. gross

Rachel J said...

I'm not breaking copyright at all, because I say very clearly I am only using it for practicing. Which is AOK by copyright laws. :)

elyssa said...

amen, amen. i work with at an elementary school with the first grade. all i can say is, amen, amen...

enjoying school? kind of jealous, kind of not ; ) having no homework is actually kind of fun--for a little while, of course. knowing my lack of student status is temporary makes it rather fabulous...