Do school reading lists do more harm than good?
Topic: Do school reading lists do more harm than good?
April 19, 2019 / By Sonora Question:
In college I was very proud of the speed with which I could write a properly structured, well-referenced essay. That skill had nefarious origins -- I acquired it by writing many of my friends' high school English assignments.
They all tried to do their own work, and almost failed the class. Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Coleridge were too much for them. Very few of these people are willing to pick up a book voluntarily after that.
My question: Is there a better way than this?
For example, if students were required to read and interpret a certain number of books per year, but could choose ANY book that was written at an appropriate level (no picture books), do you think they would learn and retain more? Or do students gain more from Tolstoy even when their only goal is a passing grade?
What would you do to improve the required reading lists?
Best Answers: Do school reading lists do more harm than good?
Portia | 4 days ago
School reading lists are being tossed around like toilet paper. A year on Yahoo! answers and I am guilty of so many homeworks done and so many turned down. Good questions (like yours) come rarely!
Coming back to your question, school reading listrs I think are a boon. At least schools try to inculcate the habit of reading students. They make them aware of such and such writers are good and should be studied. They polish their brains. There are so many many who grow up ignorant of a certain Dickens and a certain Tolstoy. For them Shakespeare is just an item of General Knowledge and to be studied by nerds. Failing at all to see the practicality and wisdom and fun of Classics. How can anyone deny that??
On the flip side, their methodolgy is absolutely wrong. Children take them for granted, because the schools are willing that. Being here I get the impressions that the teachers are demanding too much of an analysis from sudents which they are totally ill-prepared to do. There are students who ask "What are the gothic elements in Wuthering Heights?" and as a clarification add, "What is Gothic anyways?" Wasn't it their teachers duty to tell them what Gothic is before giving them the books to find such elements. Its like sending someone to fetch apples and he doesnt know what apples are. The sad thing is you know that he doesnt know. What are the teachers doing?
No reading list will be difficult if it is properly put down to the students. You simply cannot write up the books you like "a few Jane Austens, a few Dickens, a few Shakespearean Sonnets" and hand them to the students to read in their vacations. Where are the vacations? Its all Vocation? Sorry, but asking students to read is not like this - as if asking your boyfriend to buy this lipstick and that chocolate.
Again "certain number of books" is the wrong thing to do! It must be ONE book. Not more. I would specifically like it to be ONE classic and one text book. The text book containing a few short stories from Masters and fw read-worthy poems. Not the poems they give them to read. I once got an email from a student asking for some poem's interpretation. I had never heard that poem or the writer and thankfully hadnt! It was so useless! Or, I entirely missed the point! Poems should be like Wordsworth Daffodils, Rainbow etc. Something that makes sense and teaches to the students that literature can be eating in small bites instead of big and terrible gulps which get stuck in the throats and have to be thrown back by slapping the back (as happened to your friends!).
Hope I made my point!!!
ANY book as you say, I dont think is a proper. Students have a tough job selecting a book. And moreover, they may pass out with lousy books - what the gain??? Its good that someone with experience gives them the reading material but how I consider it should be done, I already said.
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Of course students gain things from classics even when their only goal is a passing grade. Even if they don't really read the book, they're still getting things from discussion in class.
I think reading lists need to be more balanced though. Or possibly give a choice from a list of books, and say they need to read five or ten books off a list of say thirty to fifty books.
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i think reading lists aren't good. i wish u could choose ur own books, within reason. if i get into the book they assign then i do well on the essays for that book. last year my teacher gave us a lot of books that no one could really get into and everyone didn't do well with these books. one other thing that's bad is summer reading lists. my school isn't good about handing them out and notifing everyone about them. most people don't find out they had to read until the first day of school and then have to finish a 900 something page book in two weeks. to improve reading lists i think teachers should give students the right to pick their own books, again within reason.
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I think your other idea, to let students choose the books(within boundaries) is a much greater idea. Of course, I'm biased because I love to read yet found most assigned books to be incredibly dry or downright uninteresting. They should still try to get us to see the "underlying, underlying themes" of those "classics", but maybe not have us do it ourselves. This is because it's true that the majority of us are just trying for a passing grade.
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Originally Answered: AP English Summer reading project.Need a good book.?
You could look into All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Native Son by Richard Wright
The U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
OK, I guess I have to stop sometime, so it might as well be now. Good luck, and have fun with your essay.
P.S. I tried to give you the wiki links but yahoo wouldn't let me. That's why there's no summary included here. Wiki does have articles on each of these titles though, so you can go there to see if they interest you.