Recently there was some discussion about schools in the U.K. preferring not to accept a collection of classic literature. The debate about what sorts of literature is best used in schools seems never ending. I personally like to teach classical literature like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because I love it and know my enthusiasm for these books get my students enthusiastic too. I also like teaching books that they’d not read on their own. I’m careful to also have an independent reading strand going on in my classroom— the kids are required to read books of their own choice every evening for homework and often in school as well — so I don’t worry that I’m compromising their enjoyment by teaching classical books I love.
At the same time I’m sympathetic to those who have had miserable classroom experiences with classical literature. To some degree my response to that is the problem is not the literature, but the teaching. A terrible teacher will destroy the most relevant text just as a fantastic teacher can make even a mediocre work come alive.
I’m prompted to write this because of another Education Week article I just came across, “Dark Themes Get Kids Reading.” Worthwhile reading as it provides more of teacher/educator perspective on this issue.