Books Or Skills

In a stack of papers called Reading.

  • Mar
  • 13
  • 2006

A short entry today, as it is based largely on conjecture of what the English Curriculum Committee’s meeting will be about this Wednesday. I overheard my friend on the phone today about a few things and required reading came up. A few years ago, we had the conversation about mandatory texts for each level of English instruction and even boiled down the suggested titles for each level. At my school, the English department has set one required novel for each grade level and we had a fairly thorough discussion about that title.

Since it looks like we might be rehashing this conversation at the district level, a conversation we just waded through about 5 years ago, here are my questions:

Should there be a list of required reading for high school graduates? Are there any titles that a graduate’s education would be less meaningful for the absence of?

If yes, what are the titles that should be on that list? What is the justification for each title? How do we make sure the titles line up with state standards? Will a person’s life truly be less rich because s/he didn’t read a particular story?

If no, how do we assure any standardization in the quality of education received? Do titles read ever equate to quality of instruction? Does a class reading The Cat In The Hat get an inferior education compared to the class reading Hamlet? Is it fair for some students to be exposed to “classic” literature while other students have never even heard of Faulkner?

Are certain books essential to a high school education? Are certain skills essential to a high school education? Is it books or skills taught that matter? Can we narrow down the list of either? Do we have the time or ability to focus on both?

1 comment

1. Debbie says:

[3/28/2006 - 1:56 pm]

When we read the 2A writing tests last year, most teachers completely disqualified books like Cat in the Hat and Goosebumps as not worthy of a 2A student’s attention or writing focus. It isn’t always the level of a book that makes it more or less acceptable, but how it is approached with a class. ReadWriteThink has several secondary-level lessons using Seuss and Silverstein as ways that students can learn higher-order thinking.