Dark Themes in Books Get Students Reading
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Chanelle Brown hasn’t found much she can relate to in the classic texts assigned in her English classes at Evanston Township High School. A top student, the junior has toiled through The Odyssey, All the King’s Men, The Scarlet Letter, and other standards, she said, while many of her classmates at the suburban Chicago school have given up reading them altogether.
“The themes are kind of dead now,” she said, “and I don’t feel like any of the stories apply to me.”
But Ms. Brown is glad that teachers at Evanston High, like educators elsewhere, have been supplementing the canon with recently published books to provide a more varied, and palatable, literary menu for students. Such decisions, some experts say, can add the kind of engaging and relevant content that high school reform advocates have been calling for.
Nevertheless, the use of popular literature has run up against traditionalists, who fear it will dumb down the curriculum, and parents who object to the controversial themes that characterize many of the selections.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
YA Literature vs. the Classics
The old YA vs. the canon debate gets another airing in a long article in this week's Education Week. For the informed it may read as a bit of a muddle but for someone new to the debate it might serve as an adequate primer. One noteworthy flaw: they call CEE's own Janet Alsup "Jane."