Another reason nobody reads anything worthwhile any more

More evidence of the paucity of literary education in high schools, from professors at the University of Arkansas, and reported by Mark Bauerlein:

“First, the content of the literature and reading curriculum for students in standard or honors courses is no longer traditional or uniform in any consistent way. The most frequently mentioned titles are assigned in only a small percentage of courses, and the low frequencies for almost all the other titles English teachers assign point to an idiosyncratic literature curriculum for most students. Moreover, the works teachers assign do not increase in difficulty from grade 9 to grade 11.”

You can read the full report here. Bauerlein points out one of the troubling practical conclusions for college literature instructors:

“Teachers in first-year college courses may reasonably assume that the 25 students in the class have each undergone a different English training in the previous four years.”

Freshman don’t have, in other words, a common base of literary reference. Even worse, high-school teachers are increasingly relying on discussions of authors’ historical time periods, biographical backgrounds, etc., rather than teaching their students how to analyze a literary text.

One might speculate that the reason for this is that one must be able oneself to understand literature before one can teach others how to do so.

Comments

  1. Random Thoughts

    “One might speculate that the reason for this is that one must be able oneself to understand literature before one can teach others how to do so.”

    The problem is that all too often high school English teachers today don’t have degrees in literature and have no experience in nor interest in analyzing it. Many of them don’t even read for pleasure. Last year a colleague teaching high school English told me in all seriousness, “I don’t ever read books. I suppose I should, but I don’t have time for it.” Unbelievable but true. How can you teach something enthusiastically when you have no personal interest in it? I wish this were an oddity, and not the commonality that it seems to be.

  2. Pingback: Sand in the Gears » Blog Archive » We was never much for ur books n such

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