Why I’ll Always Support Required Reading in Schools

Note: This post discusses English as literary studies, not composition studies.  It is not considering how English “teaches people how to write” because composition studies is a distinct field that has been absorbed by some English departments primarily so that they can claim they pass on skills for future jobs.  My argument is for the value of English as literary studies, without any need to justify it as a utilitarian subject.

When people suggest that teachers remove required reading from schools and instead let students read whatever they want, they are typically thinking of English, not as a field, but as a means to gain literacy or perhaps a love of reading.  In other words, they see English as a way to gain skills or content knowledge not necessarily related to literary studies: increased vocabulary, an ability to use context to deduce the meaning of a word, the ability to read long or difficult texts for extended periods of time, etc.  In this understanding, English class is simply a class being used to support other, “more important” classes.  Students who read more for pleasure are, after all, statistically more likely to succeed in school in all subjects.  So parents and teachers push for students to gain a love of reading, perhaps by replacing To Kill a Mockingbird with Dog Man or Wimpy Kid.  They assume that English classes do not actually have their own content and so children can read whatever they want and it makes no difference, as long as they are reading something.

In lower grades when children are indeed still learning basic literacy, this argument may hold some merit.  However, the reality is that English, or literary studies, is its own field and has its own content.  Students who have achieved basic literacy are not being asked to read books in class just so they can expand their vocabulary or learn grammar.  When instructors choose books for their classes to read, they have (or should have, if they are knowledgeable about their field) real goals in mind, goals related to the specific field of literary studies.  This may mean giving students a general background in American literature from colonial days through the Civil War.  It may mean introducing them to major figures or movements such as Hawthorne or transcendentalism.  It may mean introducing them to and teaching them to recognize various genres or various forms of poetry.  It may mean focusing on a very specific theme, such as the depiction of love in a series of texts or the cultural impact of Shakespeare.  Whatever it means, required reading books are always chosen for a reason.  They are not (or should not be) arbitrary books chosen merely because a teacher personally likes them, because they have always been taught, or because a teacher has a vague idea that the youth these days “like this sort of thing.”

This may sound snobbish to some, but English is, in fact, a real field and it is a field that requires hard work and study for anyone to gain expertise in it.  And this precisely why it is so important for schools to continue to assign required reading.  Required reading gives students the general background they need both to start thinking about whether they would like to go on to work towards expertise in English and it gives them the general background to succeed if they do go on to study English in college or after.  The reality is that schools are still very much invested in the Western canon and a student who has no familiarity with major authors or classic works is at a major disadvantage while pursuing any type of English degree.  Embarking on an English degree never having read Emerson, Shakespeare, or Whitman would be a little like starting a chemistry degree never having seen the periodic table and having only a fuzzy idea that people think it’s important.

A background in literary studies becomes even more important for those who will go on to pursue a post-graduate degree.  To apply to grad school, most students will have to take the English GRE, a test requiring individuals to read a passage, identify the work it is from along with the author and the time period, and then answer a series of questions analyzing said passage.  These are the types of skills literary studies values.  The ability to recognize texts, recognize styles, recognize time periods, recognize influences, recognize literary movements–and then the ability to use that content knowledge to analyze a work.  And the test ostensibly covers the entire Western canon–hundreds of books a person is supposed to have read already.  But an individual can’t identify a passage from Milton or Dickens or Austen, much less analyze it effectively, if their school careers have not introduced them to classics.

Because students with a background in the canon and in other major works have a distinct advantage over students who do not, required reading can perhaps be seen as an issue of equity.  Students who are not introduced to classic works are not given even the opportunity to consider whether they want to enter the field of literary studies.  How could they?  They don’t know what literary studies looks like.  Students who somehow end up studying English anyway will find themselves lost and scrambling to read all the books everyone else in their major has already read.  They are starting the race miles behind.

But students “don’t like” the classics, you say?  Arguments that English classes should drop required reading because students may not like the books are as silly as arguing that students who do not like algebra should be able to skip it or students who do not relate to the American Revolution should not have to learn about it.  But no one argues that students should get to pick and choose which math or science concepts they should learn.  No one argues that students should get to choose their own social studies curriculum and only learn about the periods of history that they like best.  Partially this is because people tend to recognize STEM teachers as experts while everyone assumes that, since they can read, they are equally as knowledgeable about literary studies as anyone holding an English degree.  Partially this is because other subjects are seen as useful and English is not–unless we can make it seem useful by conflating it with vocabulary or spelling or writing.  (I’m sure every person with an English degree has met that person who asks if they are “learning grammar” in college.)

But the bizarre aspect of these arguments is that they are primarily made by people who love reading–and who do somehow see it as valuable.  Yet the average adult is certainly not reading at night to learn to spell! They are not reading so that they can perform their jobs more effectively. They recognize some other intrinsic value to stories and to words.  Perhaps it’s that subtle magic that they want to pass on to children by letting children ignore the curriculum and read whatever they want.  But, again, we must consider how we treat English in relation to other classes.  Other classes are assumed to have content that is good for students to be familiar with, even if they do not always enjoy it.  English is the same.  Not everyone will fall in love with Shakespeare (and not everyone will hate him!).  But it’s profitable for people to know who he is.

Acknowledging that English has real content is a sign of respect.  It is an acknowledgment that English does not exist simply to teach basics skills to be used in other, more “useful” subjects.  English is an actual subject and students should be introduced to that subject in school, just as they are introduced to any other subject.

Edit:

I have been asked to clarify that this post is focused on why grade schools and high schools should require reading, rather than simply ask students to read a certain number of books each month or to read for a certain amount of time each day.  Although I do maintain that a number of colleges still prioritize classic works and the Western canon and expect students to have a basic background knowledge in it, the post was not written as a defense of the Western canon, but rather to argue that English classes do have content and should be taught that way.  So what does that mean?

This means that schools can have classes that teach graphic novels.  They can teach YA books. They can do book and film comparisons.  It doesn’t matter, as long as there is some sort of pedagogical goal.  To prepare students for college courses, however, teachers can integrate classic works into the curriculum.  Simple solutions might be doing something like reading To Kill a Mockingbird with a modern day YA and comparing how race is addressed. Or reading a Shakespeare play and looking at a YA adaption in conjunction. Instructors get some classics in there along with other works and students can even interrogate those classics in light of how the story might be written today. Strategies like these give direction to students’ reading and help them to experience works they might not choose on their own.

Tomorrow I discuss why “English teaches critical thinking” is not a good defense for the English degree.

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34 thoughts on “Why I’ll Always Support Required Reading in Schools

  1. Mattie @ Living Mattie says:

    This was really interesting to read! My issue is that schools often force required reading on kids who are never going to delve into English literature on a deep level. Fine, give your A Level (AP in America) classes required reading, since they are clearly taking English as a scholarly discipline, but before A level (AP) I don’t think it’s really necessary for a person’s education.

    That might be a controversial opinion, I don’t really know? I just feel it would be more helpful (for people who aren’t going to pursue English literature) to give them a love and a habit of reading for pleasure, rather than forcing them to read books that have no bearing on their life or career.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think that’s actually arguable about most of the school curriculum, however. Even in subjects where people seem to think that the subject is universally useful or something, it’s really not. I have never used high school calculus in my daily life, never mind the even more advanced math I learned in college. I have never needed any of my high school chemistry knowledge or needed to build a pulley system like I did in physics. I’m not in a STEM field, so I don’t use anything “useful” beyond the basics of all these subjects that I learned in grade school, long before high school. There’s a big difference between teaching “useful” math like how to add and stuff that’s more abstract that you’re not actually going to need unless you become an engineer or something.

      Partially, however, the goal of high school may be to introduce subjects to a variety of subjects that, honestly, most of them will never use because at least it gives them a basis for deciding *if* they might want to pursue it later. It’s easier to cross off literary studies from a list of possible college majors if you took it in high school and hated it. It’s easier to choose it as a major if you took it in high school and liked it. Same with most of the other subjects. I hated physics in high school, so I never pursued it as a class subject again. Basically, I don’t think English as literary studies is really more or less useful than anything else studied in high school, but people tend to pick on it as if learning how to do a titration in chemistry is actually extremely necessary and valuable in comparison.

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      • Mattie @ Living Mattie says:

        Yes, I agree with that 🙂 school teaches you a lot of useless stuff that you never need. My point was that forcing kids to study Shakespeare actually puts them off reading for life, when reading for pleasure is actually very beneficial and could really help them. Putting a kid of history or maths or chemistry for the rest of their life doesn’t have such a negative impact.

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        • Krysta says:

          Well, everyone’s experience with Shakespeare will differ. I used to hate Shakespeare until I had a wonderful instructor whose knowledge and passion lead me to study Renaissance literature! It is okay if not everyone connects with one specific author, though. Most high school classes are survey courses, meaning they introduce students to a broad range of literature. They might read one or two Shakespeare plays along with a bunch of other authors. So they will have the opportunity to see that not all literature looks like Shakespeare. Hopefully they will realize that books are different and not liking one play doesn’t mean all books are bad. Hopefully they will connect with something else!

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    • Krysta says:

      The thing is, children don’t know what they will end up doing or what classes will be beneficial. A few years ago a study showed a majority of kids wanting jobs in science believed they didn’t need math! If they were allowed to choose their own courses, they would be woefully unprepared! There is also the possibility that a student will change their mind over the years. They will be better prepared if they didn’t skip courses! And taking certain courses could actually be the reason they change their mind. I used to hate Shakespeare until I took a course with a wonderful instructor. I immediately began to focus on Renaissance literature. But that would never have happened if I were allowed to stay within my comfort zone.

      Relevant to today’s political climate is also that guiding people outside comfort zone means introducing them to diverse literature. The average student would probably never move beyond Wimpy Kid or Rick Riordan if left to their own devices. Required reading helps students broaden their perspectives.

      Also, what is the point of English class if not to teach analysis of related works or to introduce literary movements of genres? Why have English class if kids are just reading whatever with no guidance? Why hire a teacher with a degree in literature? It kind of makes it seem like we are saying the teacher has no real expertise to share and their job could be done by anyone who can show up and tell students to read something. 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. RAnn says:

    The question I have is whether this literary analysis is useful for anyone. I love to read but hated most literature classes and never saw the point. I had to laugh when I read a book about Harry Potter. The basic thesis of the book was that not only was Harry Potter not satanic, it was a deeply Christian work. The end of the book included a statement by the author, who said that he never asked J.K. Rowling if his interpretation of her books was correct–and since she is alive (as opposed to Emerson or Keats), that would seem like a reasonable thing to do. His response: no, but it didn’t matter, because who is she to tell him how to interpret her books?

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I actually just wrote a long-ish comment above about how I don’t think the rest of the high school curriculum is really that useful either. (Though notably my co-blogger wrote the original post, not me, so she probably also has thoughts on this.) The reality is that I have also never used a single thing I learned in high school calculus, chemistry, or physics, though people have a tendency to think the STEM fields are “useful” and have content “everyone should know.” But knowing how to do a titration or build a pulley something is not something I have ever needed to know how to do–not would most people unless they go into a STEM field related to these things. However, taking a wide variety of subjects in high school at least gives kids students a taste of different subjects they could pursue at a higher level if they wanted to.

      Is the field of subjects arbitrary? Is there a reason it’s standard to take biology but not teach high school students intro to psychology? Is there a reason history is required but not music or art? I think there’s a decent argument that, sure, maybe the options are arbitrary, but I think there all going to actually not be that useful to the majority of students, no matter what you pick. The “useful” math I use in my daily life is all from elementary or middle school.

      It’s standard in literary students to ignore the “intention of the author” because you’re analyzing the text by itself. The field would argue that it doesn’t “matter,” if the author “intended” to add a commentary on the nature of death, for instance; as long as you can find enough supporting evidence to make an argument that the text is exploring a specific theme, then the theme is there.

      This is useful both ways because, yes, you can read something in a text that the author didn’t sit down and say “Now I will add this bird as a symbol of freedom that reappears at key points outside the text.” But it also means that an author can’t say “Well I INTENDED to write a complex exploration of what it means to be free” when there’s really no complexity in the text that backs them up. Your work speaks for itself or it doesn’t; you can’t argue it’s “deeper” than it actually is.

      It also means you can analyze and discuss texts where the author is dead or just unavailable for discussion. If we had to ask what authors meant in order to understand a text, we’d have to give up on reading a lot of things because the authors simply wouldn’t be able to tell us. 😉

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    • Krysta says:

      Briana gave a great explanation of literary analysis. Just to add a little more background, the intent of the author has been considered pretty much irrelevant since 1967 when Roland Barthes published “The Death of the Author.” Ever since, literary critics have largely agreed that the text speaks for itself. If someone has textual evidence for an argument, it is valid, no matter what the author says. This can be useful in cases like Dante, where he offers differing interpretations of his own work over the years as he finds his beliefs changing and seeks to create his own literary legacy (making himself look awesome). So the lady who once lead him astray changes from a potential real lady to a symbolic lady! She was philosophy the whole time, guys!

      So literature classes can be valuable in training is now to read critically. We don’t need to take Dante at his word. We can expose his contradictions and offer our own interpretations of his work. Likewise, we can argue against Barthes, too. 😉

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  3. MoMo @ Remnants of Wit says:

    Thanks for this great post! It’s sometimes astonishing how many people assume that the actual content of literature classes is irrelevant. I’m glad you addressed this. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

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    • Krysta says:

      I think it is well meant. People want kids to have choice. But you can integrate choice into the curriculum and still have required books everyone discusses together. The best of both worlds!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mgerardmingo says:

    I really appreciate your point about the importance of intention and cohesion when designing a class reading list. Nothing frustrated me more as a student than an English class that jumped from book to book with little attempt to connect them. That’s really when required reading turns into busy-work: when you have to do the task in front of you solely because it is the task in front of you.

    I absolutely adored my 12th grade English class, simply because the teacher bothered to group the texts into coherent chunks. One unit, we’d survey the literature of colonialism from Shakespeare to Conrad to Achebe, and examine how later authors responded to past ones; another unit, we’d read “Lord of the Flies” in the context of various political philosophies, and so on. Yeah, it was basically a survey of surveys, but at least we students got the sense that literature was an ongoing conversation and not some static set of objects.

    And I think appreciating that ongoing conversation is valuable even if students hate the book they’re reading. Like, I thought “A Thousand Acres” was a total failure as a retelling of “King Lear,” but being required to read it taught me that Shakespeare the story-teller (as opposed to Shakespeare the poet) still had a hold on people, still had relevance to modern society. (Not an actual revelation, I know, but hey, I was a teenager.)

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post! I know I tend to be skeptical of utilitarian arguments for the value of art.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I did have some courses that seem very random in retrospect. I think they were just stories the teacher liked combined with stories we were “supposed” to read or the school had always read. The texts certainly weren’t put into conversation with each other helpfully located in historical time periods or movements. We did sometimes just bounce along from one work to the next.

      And I agree that there is value in reading stuff we don’t enjoy. There are a lot of books I didn’t like reading, but I’m glad I did. I’m glad I know what Brave New World and 1984 are, even if I didn’t like them! Especially as they’re often used as cultural references when politics are discussed. They give people a useful way to discuss current events, I suppose, and, since I’m familiar with them, I can enter into the conversation a little better. I sometimes feel this is helpful because a lot of the references seem a little overused or alarmist to me….

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  5. Kay Wisteria says:

    This is such an interesting post! I definitely can see some merit with being familiar with some classics. However, I still think that forcing high school students to read so many books that they don’t like is almost sort of detrimental because it causes a lot of people to dislike reading haha. I love reading (hence why I’m a book blogger haha) but pretty much everyone in AP Lit at my high school (including me) hates it. Actually part of the problem is probably with all the answers on the internet, most teachers give these absurdly hard “quote quizzes” that are literally just quizzing us on memorizing the text and not even understanding it because they have to make quizzes “sparknotes proof.” Also, juniors who take AP Lang at my high school don’t have any required reading because the class is argument and rhetoric based writing instead of literary analysis, and I feel like it would be helpful to have more of that than just years and years of Shakespeare haha. Also, I feel like it might be better to have more options, like you have to have required reading, but you can choose if you want to read Shakespeare or Dickens or Twain or whatever like in STEM classes where you can choose to take bio or chem or physics, etc.

    Although if one good thing came out of this overdose of Shakespeare, it’s that I’ve realized that, I definitely do NOT want to major in anything remotely related to English in college haha.

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    • Krysta says:

      I don’t think required reading and choice in reading are opposed. A class could easily do both by assigning some required books, which the class could discusses a whole, along with book reports, papers, or projects that incorporate a book of the student’s choice. Sometimes the proponents of each side suggest it must be so if nothing, but I think there is usually a more nuanced solution!

      It does sound like part of the reason students might not be enjoying class, though, might be the way literature is being taught. I actually didn’t like my English classes in grade school or high school because they focused on comprehension rather than analysis, with many multiple choice tests. That would suck the life out of any book, though.

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  6. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Such a great post! I’ve often thought about people who make this argument seem to think English is just “literature appreciation”- and if it’s just that, then why not just give children books they enjoy instead of challenging them with something that might seem “too hard”? However, that’s not the purpose of English and I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of that a lot of the time.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’ve had the same thought. Of course I want people to like reading, and I do think there is room for independent projects where students pick their own books, but I am baffled by the popular idea that the only or primary goal of an English class is ” make people enjoy reading.” There is no similar call to make people like math or physical activity or history, etc, even though liking those things is “good”. silent time to read books you like is just fundamentally different from an English class.

      Also, I have seen bloggers say that analyzing books is what ” ruins” reading, in which case reading Harry Potter instead of Jane Austen would not actually make them like English class o r reading in general. And I think English class has failed students if they read Shakespeare, find it boring, and decide they hate reading because, what, they seriously think ALL literature sounds like Shakespeare?

      Liked by 1 person

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Yeah for sure. I can’t imagine people would do that for science/maths! Absolutely!

        Ach I really don’t like when people say that- it hurts my soul a little. And yes I agree (although I wished more people liked Shakespeare- most of the time I just think it’s badly taught).

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        • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

          Oh, yeah, Shakespeare as the default example of stodgy, “boring reading out-of-touch with today’s youths that no one enjoys” makes me weep a bit, too. But I wish people who do dislike Shakespeare would at least stop implying that reading Shakespeare is the same experience as reading Dickens or Steinbeck or Harper Lee!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Krysta says:

          I totally agree! Shakespeare is often taught badly! As is a lot of literature. I never liked an English class until I got to college because my teachers were awful! They could truly ruin any book, I think. It wouldn’t matter if they assigned The Hunger Games. They could probably destroy that for everyone, too. But people often fail to distinguish between the class and the story.

          I actually see this a lot. People will often complain to me about how much they hate English. When I ask, they actually can typically name a few stories they read and liked. What they really hate is the amount of reading assigned or writing papers or trying to figure out how to do analysis instead of summary. But then they project that stress onto English and think, “I’m not a reader. I don’t like reading. I don’t like books.” Not true. They just don’t like the English class they’re in.

          So maybe that makes it look like required reading really does destroy someone’s love of literature. But I think it’s important to remember that a poor teacher doesn’t mean required reading is bad. Nor does stress with learning analysis mean required reading is bad. It means the class has to change or the student has to gain more comfort with what they’re being asked to do. We don’t toss out titrations when chem students get frustrated with them. We teach them that failure is part of the process. It’s okay to fail, to start over, to readjust and try again. The same with reading.

          Liked by 1 person

          • theorangutanlibrarian says:

            Oh yes I definitely think that a lot of the time it can just be taught badly (and like you said, it wouldn’t matter what the book was if that was the case).

            And gosh yeah that’s true.

            And yes absolutely.

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    • Krysta says:

      I find this attitude weird, as well, because why do we need English in schools if it’s just literature appreciation? Any person can tell a kid to find a book and read it for twenty minutes a day and hope they like it and that it makes this kid a lifelong reader. Why do you need someone with an English degree and a teacher’s certification to do that? We might as well take English out of schools, replace it with something else like coding or whatever is trendy*, and then just tell parents to make their kids read every day and turn in a log at some point. Or maybe it could be a “special” once a week class where the kids report on what they’re reading and share their enthusiasm (or lack of). Like a little book club. Either way, the whole “kids choose the entire curriculum” makes the teacher seem unnecessary because no direction is being given, no history or influences are being taught, and no analysis is being done.

      But why not just integrate some choice into a course with other required reading? What’s so wrong with that? People seem to think it must be all one way or the other, which is almost never true, though it is easier to make an argument when you set it up as either-or instead of trying to find a more complex middle ground.

      Also, the push against required reading baffles me when coupled with the simultaneous current push for diverse literature. Left to their own devices, a good many readers will not read diversely. If one of today’s rallying cries is to get students to read about people who are not like them, required reading should be seen as a tool to get students to step outside their comfort zones. I am at the library a lot and I am very certain that the average child (at least where I live) is basically reading a few series: Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, Dork Diaries, Rick Riordan’s books, the Unwanteds, and the I Survived series. I haven’t read all those books, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a diverse list. Maybe they love reading those books, but what are they getting out of them? Especially if they never move on past a particular series? Shouldn’t we try to help them broaden their horizons a bit and find other titles they might enjoy?

      *Disclaimer: I actually like the idea of coding in schools since it teaches how to do things in steps and how to be resilient and problem solve. No offense to coding is meant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Yeah exactly!! It’s not a skill to give children books that they’ll enjoy (incidentally the parents that want this can set up their own initiative/give books to their children that they’ll enjoy (it’s not necessarily the teacher’s job to do this- especially in class). And yeah for sure!! Shockingly, children don’t get to choose what they study in maths or science (I can guess some of the topics that would end up being the only ones taught in science 😉 )

        And yeah that’s a possibility.

        And yes that’s very true- a lot of children in particular just won’t know about diverse books if they’re not told about them.

        (hehe yes I get what you mean about coding 😉 )

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        • Krysta says:

          I think there is something to being familiar with children’s literature when helping students select books. School Library Journal recently published an article saying most teachers are no longer required to take a children’s lit course and a large percentage (It was in the 40s) don’t even feel passionate about reading. So how can they help direct children to suitable or enjoyable titles? They don’t read any of them. Parents might be in the same boat. I believe the article was using this evidence to argue for the importance of librarians as children’s lit experts. Which is great. But I would want my child’s English teacher to be familiar with the books kids are reading, too…. Not just handing them a list of recommended titles they found online or that won awards.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Grab the Lapels says:

    your sentence about some students starting miles behind if they want to do an English degree but haven’t read the classics really got to me. I was one of those miles behind people. I may still be. I read one Victorian novel in college as part of a survey course. I love that survey courses. I feel like they’re designed to just have you skim your fingers over the water of the subject matter, not actually getting wet. After I had completed 3 degrees, I took some extra time to audit a class called The Victorian Universe. That’s when I actually learned about that time period, and novels, and how it all fit into history. I’m still clambering around, trying to figure things out. Pro required reading over here!

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    • Krysta says:

      I vividly remember attending a college course on poetry. It was my first class on poetry ever. We began by analyzing poems! No introduction to how analysis of poems is done. We jumped in! I was terrified. I had no clue how I would survive when everyone else was confidently raising their hands and offering astute comments. I did survive, but I would have appreciated more of a background in what we were doing. And that’s been true in a bunch of classes since, from medieval literature to African American literature. Because analysis of each one is a little bit different and is helped by relevant background knowledge. Which I usually didn’t enter in with, while everyone else seemed to…. Seriously, what do they do? Read books on medieval lit in their free time?

      But, yeah, I think that, no matter how much I learn, I always see there’s more to learn. I may think, “Yep, I know Shakespeare!” But then you read another book or take another class and there’s always something more to learn. I try to stay open-minded about that because I really believe one of the main reasons students don’t learn is because they believe they have nothing to learn. So they don’t listen or do the assignments and thus never realize how much they could have learned!

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  8. ireadthatinabook says:

    We had some required reading but when it came to longer novels we often instead got to choose between a few alternatives fitting a specific theme. That way we could have lectures relevant to the reading but still choose the book that sounded most interesting/least boring.
    I think that worked rather well and when a novel anyway turned out to be boring I felt that I had made a bad choice rather than having been forced by the teacher to read that specific novel. So it forced us to expand our reading but still gave us some choice. The disadvantage was of course that it made classroom discussions harder but I believe we primarily had those for shorter texts which everyone was supposed to read.

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    • Krysta says:

      Exactly! Ideally, a course would be composed of both required reading and provide room for students to choose books for certain projects or papers. It doesn’t have to be all one thing or the other.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jenchaos76 says:

    While my kids and certainly I do not like the books chosen to read in the classroom, they are essential to the learning experience as a whole. Children learn about writing properly, how to infer from stories and passages and how to use your imagination. This cannot be taught, rather it’s acquired over time. This also helps kids who have a problem with reading itself. My youngest has had required reading since the first grade.

    Now that my two kids who are still in public school are reading classics and popular fiction in class they are making judgments about authors, writing styles and other things. This has encouraged my youngest to read for pleasure. This makes me happy as a parent. My son hates to read, but he does read technical stuff. He thinks the classics are boring and in some cases they are, I agree with him.

    If they take this away, they are taking a good chunk of the ELA structure out of schools and that makes me angry.

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