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February 20, 2014

"Why We Should Stop Teaching Novels to High School Students"

Excellent. (I wouldn't "stop," I'd just cut them by about 75%.)

Journalism, essay, memoir, creative nonfiction: These are only things I started reading as an adult because of how little I enjoyed reading novels in high school. Surely, the un-made-up stuff would be more of a bore, I thought. Yet when I finally read In Cold BloodInto Thin Air, the works of Hunter S. Thompson and Joan Didion, I continually pleaded aloud to my friends in their twenties, “Why didn’t anyone make me read this in high school?!”

How much easier it would have been! The stakes, so high and clear: A group of people set out to climb Mount Everest. There is no metaphor to untangle! The mountain is, like, a big fucking deal on its own. People die on it. Will people die on this expedition? Probably! Tell us more, Jon Krakauer!

The stories are direct and engaging. A whole family is slaughtered in a podunk wholesome town in Kansas. Who did it? And Why?

Comments

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Patrick R. Sullivan

I have a hard time believing that the problem with kids today is that they have been made to read too much of the world's great literature.

JorgXMckie

You might not have such a hard time if you saw the typical reading list and saw how little of it would qualify as "world's great literature." I have a family friend whose teenager hated reading until introduced to the sort of stuff this entry talks about. Turns out the "literature" on the reading list was the usual [today] impenetrable crud foisted on the unwitting by those who listen to the dolts in the College of Education.

JorgXMckie

Oh, and practically nothing seems to be assigned because "it's a ripping good story" but instead is dissected and hacked to death by someone probably repeating the post-modern lit-crit stuff they heard in college.

JKB

I agree, it is not the reading that is the problem. It is that English Lit makes reading so unbelievably boring and such drudgery, prolific readers such as myself avoid it like the plague.

Worse, they still try to force students do literary criticism. A job they are wholly unqualified for at that point in their life and really isn't possible until grad school. This used to be known but like so much in education somehow got lost over time. 'Freshman Rhetoric' by Slater covers this misconception quite well but then that book is 95 years old.

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