Classic literature in today's schools | Teen Ink

Classic literature in today's schools

April 24, 2012
By Emma.H.96 DIAMOND, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Emma.H.96 DIAMOND, Kalamazoo, Michigan
65 articles 0 photos 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better. -Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

In the past, European culture has held superiority to other cultural groups. Schools today have adopted a curriculum based upon classic literature which is written mainly by white, European authors. These books, called “great books”, have a certain familiarity with both students and teachers alike. However, some opponents say that solely using these “great books” can result in a biased view of the world. Only using these “great books” can create a very biased generation with a one minded perspective on the world. Schools should write their curriculum around a multicultural group of literature but also incorporate these “great books” because they are part of our culture all the same.

Literature is an important part of any culture. The type of books students read in school shape their minds and perspectives on the world. Using “great books” in school curriculum only shows students the perspective of white, European authors therefore students would leave high school with the perspective of a white, European author. School is meant to educate and make students more aware of the world around them. Basing the curriculum on mainly dead, white males only gives students one perspective. The literature that students should be reading needs to be more cultural, diverse, contemporary, and open to female authors as well. After all, America is called the melting pot; shouldn’t our literature be diverse too?
Although many of these “great books” have a familiarity essential to kid’s education, the purpose of literature is educate and entertain and other cultures have ideas and concepts that students can benefit from learning. Many of the “great books” that are incorporated into curriculum have very influential and biased ideas on racism, sexism, and how society should be run. Students should receive a wide assortment of ideas from males and females of different races and nations. The generation who receives only “great books” as their literature is missing out on new ideas that classic literature cannot show them. As human being’s, we often hold on to things that are familiar to us but this is a new generation of independent thinkers that students and teachers need to be shown.
School curriculum shouldn’t focus as much on these classic “great books” as so many of them are doing. Administrators should choose books that benefit the generation at hand and try to actually relate the stories of the literature to the student’s lives. Most classic literature has no foothold in the society this generation is living in. many students need to be able to relate to their books in order to gain respect for them and have a connection with the characters. In Michigan alone, almost 30 percent of students per school failed an English class in their high school career. The curriculum students are being taught needs to have some kind of attachment to them or most will not even bother to comprehend most of what their teachers are saying.
The idea that only “great books” should be used as literature in today’s schools is what makes a generation so biased to the diverse world around them. Schools have such an impact in a student’s life and to throw away such new and inventive ideas on literature that was written hundreds of years ago by dead, white males are only furthering the need for change. Most students don’t even comprehend the literature they are given in their high school careers. Curriculum in today’s schools should be based on contemporary literature written by males or females of all different cultures.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.