As someone who enjoys a good book, I support the reading of just about any piece of literature. Not only is it good for the mind, it is also a fun and easy way for children to improve their English. Reading is also a great way to learn about other societies, in different time periods.
So what is the issue then?
Major GCSE exam boards have removed American authors such as Steinbeck and Miller. Books like 'Of Mice and Men', which young people would of read, will no longer be taught. At least at GCSE level. Instead, books like George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' will be taught. Students will also study a 19th century novel such as, Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' and a Shakespeare play such as 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Macbeth' or 'Julius Caesar'.
This change has met some fierce opposition. The group calling themselves 'Left Unity' staged a protest in the Department of Education, by reading extracts from books such as 'Of Mice and Men' and 'How to Kill a Mockingbird'. They believe that the changes would, "narrow teaching" in schools. The affect of the Great Depression and racism in the US on literature will no longer be taught. These areas of history are extremely important in understanding today's world and as someone who advocates the study of any time period, this is the only concern that I have.
However is this really a problem?
- First of all there is still a wide range of different pieces of literature to read from, the number of books available to be taught is still the same.
- Rarely is the choice given to students. Usually a book is taught because it is considered "easy" to understand, or because there is a movie of it. This was the case in the easy to read, but enjoyable 'Of Mice and Men'.
- The quality of the books being taught are no less. With works such as 'Animal Farm' and 'Frankenstein' being taught, it is hard to argue that the new books are bad in comparison to the old.
This has caused a lot of debate. Largely in fact to the popularity, or more the lack of popularity of Micheal Gove. Whose 'shake up' of the education system has been met with a lot of criticism and this has been seen as yet more "unnecessary intervention."
In my opinion then. My only issue with the new syllabus is there is no Fantasy or Science Fiction, but that is just my own personal opinion.
Is the new syllabus "narrow"? Would you prefer to read 'Of Mice and Men' to any of the new books?