I'm kinda on the fence with required reading. And after some thought, I've decided that it really has quite a bit to do with how the teacher presents it. For example, whereas most loathe Dickens, I had such a wonderful high school teacher, that I have fond memories of him and am eagerly looking forward to reading more Dickens in the future. This is an interesting topic though and I think that I might write a full post about.
I'm OK with required reading, provided it is taught with enthusiasm and passion. And that is is a diverse selection, rather than the same dead white guys. And that it is balanced with independent reading-in the educational sense of the word, rather than the recreational sense of the word. But I think there should be some, if for no other reason than cultural competency.
I hated hated hated Brave New World. I just did. It made me secretly loathe all science fiction.
Lovely. And yet, what a hard question this is! I grew up with no required classics and am very sorry for it--since I really wish I had studied literature more in class rather than just purely enjoying it on my own. There are all sorts of levels I am only beginning to appreciate as I read more literary criticism and the like. I would not trade literary sophistication for my love of books, but I do wish I could have both.
It is necessary to introduce books to students, but I agree with Cristina it depends on the way it's done. Also, it depends on a person, because we are not all ready or mature enough to process particualr themes at the same time of our age. I say this from my personal expericence. I remember a book I hated and didn't unerstand it when we had to read it as required, but when I reread it years after on my own I discovered it is actually a good book. Also, I read a lot of required books in school even before I had to and some of these books became my favourite boooks I read again and again. I feel so sorry for my colleagues who were forced to red those same books and hate them just because they were not ready for them at the time. I think requred reading should be more flexible, perheps offering alternatives or something, because as it is necessary, it also causes a lot of damage.
Required reading as made me dislike so many classics. However there are many I'd like to revisit now...well except for the one that really made my list.I think there are some books that until you've really experienced life, can't be fully appreciated.
This post reminds me of something I overheard at one of the library's Big Book Sales. There was a woman at the YA tables grabbing arm loads of books and putting them into her canvas bags. She ran into someone she knew and from their conversation I learned she was a teacher buying books for her class. She said, "I want them to have a choice. To be able to read something that THEY want to read. Not what they MUST read." Wise teacher, I thought. Give kids a choice from a list of "must reads" and let me decide. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
I left a comment which apparently got eaten. I'm torn on the subject of required reading - perhaps a list of books one can chose from is the answer.
I still shudder with horror at my teachers attempt to instill the authorized text book call & response ritual. To make sure that the pupil/ teacher(demigod) relationship was correctly maintained, I.e. Teacher comes down from holy mountain(the staffroom) with holy text proceeds to convey it in monotone within the parameters of the prescribed meaning & woe betide any classroom heretics that dispute said meaning. as I said I still shudder.
Debbie, I am so with you on required reading. It was done a lot when I was in high school and I hated it. I would always read the required book in a day or two but hate to keep re-reading it because the class would read the book over the course of a month or so. The teacher never took in account the students who were readers and wanted to read something else too.
I guess it depends the way it's done...
1. The teacher DOES make all the difference. My sophomore high school teacher approached the classics very haughtily, as if she was enlightened, apart from all others, merely because she had the better taste in reading them. I must say, that made me despise classics, as I grouped them together with pretentious elitists. Then my junior year, I was graced by being in Mrs. Helland's class--a woman who aproached the classics with a zeal and passion that made me want to see for myself what the fuss was all about. She made them accessible, and shared all these anecdotes and odd facts, and never, ever made any of us feel stupid if we didn't' "get" something, or if we missed a literary allusion. That, for me, made all the difference.2. While we had our assigned readings,(mainly Shakespeare) we were also given a list of books that we could choose from. The list contained several hundred books, so there was something for everyone, and I came to Wuthering Heights on my own and ended up loving with a ferverence that surprised me.
Very well said. I think required reading can be a good thing if it is done right. But so many students (myself included at times) feel like the books are being forced down their throats by schools. Definitely agree with what you said about how if a book is really that great, people will flock to it on their own :)
I am kinda on the fence. Some of the required reading helps you to learn about literature: allusions, metaphors, themes, etc. I probably never would have read Shakespeare on my own and i LOVE the plays now, because i was helped through a few in high school.That being said, i also learned a lot from my summer reading the last 2 years of high school. We had a list of about 20 books and had to read 2 or 3. Before my JR year it was American Lit and Sr yr was British and i found some favorites from those years!
My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.http://silversolara.blogspot.com
I think some amount of required reading is necessary so students can learn about literature. I agree with those that say it's all about the teacher. Teaching a subject like literature can make or break a love for reading!
Required reading for school definitely puts me off of reading (thankfully I work in the children's department of a library so most of my extra reading is picture books)...
Tell me what you think. But please be kind.