I’ve taught high school. Luckily I was at a good one, but I noticed one thing. Almost all kids hate to read now. Sure, there will always be the student that can’t put their books down, but they are few and far between. Why should they read now? They have phones, video games, and TVs to keep them busy. I don’t blame them. I get distracted by the same things.
Our English language arts programs don’t do us any favors either (I’m sure I’ll be dodging shoes of my English teacher friends in a minute). Seriously, look at what we make our kids read in school. Here is what I remember reading in high school: Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I know other classes covered the Great Gatsby. Other than that, I don’t know what else there is. I do know that almost all the reading lists are based on what we consider English classics.
So, when do we stop considering them classics? Maybe we’ll always make our kids read those books. Why? Because its what we’ve always done. Guess what? That’s why our kids hate reading. Most of them simply cannot connect with those authors and their writing. Seriously. Every time we started a classic in school all I wanted to do was throw the book out the classroom door. I had to seek out 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I connected with those.
What would be the problem with letting our kids read more contemporary works. What is wrong with Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings books? I know, I know. There are some serious politics that go into book selections. Some parents don’t like the witchcraft and magic in those books. I wonder where those same parents were when Dr. Frankenstein was putting parts together to make a living being? Honestly though, there are so many different books that offer the same literary concepts as the classics. They are just as easy to use in instruction and they have one major advantage – more kids will connect with them.
Teaching the classics just to do it is stupid. If we are doing it because we think our kids need to have an appreciation for the them, then we are doing it wrong. I won’t pick up any of them because I was forced to do it in school. Maybe we are so reluctant to change because we think it will be too much work to rewrite our lesson plans. If that’s the case, then I know why modern education is having trouble staying relevant. Laziness.
Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of reading motivation has to come from home. I rarely ran into a student that was an avid reader who didn’t have great familial support behind them. Parents have to encourage their kids to read, but if they don’t, the last reading hope is their school. Why not offer them something they’ll actually enjoy while also getting them same instruction they would with the classics. I’ve always been on the fence with homeschooling, but they definitely have the advantage here.
Tell me what you think.