Monday, August 25, 2008

A Teacher on Assigned Reading: "We're Teaching Books That Don't Stack Up"

Ok, I'll be honest, this article is directed toward teachers, and is written by a high school English teacher, but as it deals with how teens feel about the literature they are assigned in school. I think it's worth a read.

'"Butchering." That's what one of my former students, a young man who loves creative writing but rarely gets to do any at school, called English class. He was referring to the endless picking apart of linguistic details that loses teens in a haze of "So what?" The reading quizzes that turn, say, "Hamlet" into a Q&A on facts, symbols and themes. The thesis-driven essay assignments that require students to write about a novel they can't muster any passion for ("The Scarlet Letter" is high on teens' list of most dreaded). I'll never forget what one parent, bemoaning his daughter's aversion to great books after she took AP English Literature, wrote to me: "What I've seen teachers do is take living, breathing works of art and transform them into dessicated lab specimens fit for dissection."'

Strange, that's exactly how *I* felt in high school...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how I felt about English class (except for mythology). I disliked it so much that I didn't take a single English class in college!