Summer is over! Put down that ice cream! Put on your wooly jumper! With the start of September the floodgates of anxiety burst forth for thousands of teachers all over the world. Did the students perform well? Is there anything more they could have done? Will they return to a mountain of letters from angry parents? Whilst knocking back some Ribena last weekend with my teacher friend. I was struck by the amount of pressure there is for all of the pupils to receive a particular grade and the reality that so many hadn’t. I don’t question that the students and teachers for the most part worked to the best of their ability. What I do question is whether the books available on the curriculum are engaging enough. Are they the right texts to inspire and educate children of all abilities?
In England, 19th Century Literature and prose is a heavy feature early on. This hasn’t change much since I was at school (except they do now get to read Sherlock!)
The current choice are:
Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde
A Christmas Carol
The Sign of Four
I thought the choices were quite good. But I’m looking at them from the perspective of an avid reader, who’s tackled the majority of these for fun. They must be a more significant undertaking for the students who have to read them, especially those of lower ability.
When I read them I found them deeply perceptive and artistically written. I also found them incredibly boring. With all the exciting stories in the world are these the best we can do? I’m not suggesting we lay down the Shakespeare in favour of Harry Potter. (Even though that would be amazing.) But I do think that there are far better books out there that are not only educational, but also fun!
My top choices would be:
A study of Lewis Carol from Nonesense poetry to Alice in Wonderland
Short stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
If you could choose the texts, what would you set?