WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH CLASSES?

WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH CLASSES?

Before reading any further you should know that I have a very scientific data pool of one, my nephew Sid, who is a sophomore and age 15. We live in Minnesota, in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis. And I am a bitter, formerly-licensed high school teacher who would never be able to cajole teenagers into reading and writing, which is why I don’t do it but respect the hell out of anyone who does. Phew.

That said.

Last year, all Sid’s English class did was watch movie versions of the books they read. He read exactly one book that year, Of Mice and Men (barf) and then they watched the movie. Um, what the hell is the point of that? You made them read the book already – why watch the fugging movie? Yet, this went on and on all year.

This year, Sid is at a new school. He’s a minority white boy in this school, which is cool, I think, and which he also finds novel. I was thrilled to hear that his English class was going to read Veronica Roth‘s Divergent, because I loved that book and I’m so excited about kids getting to read good contemporary stuff instead of the moth-eaten Shakespeare which I think is nice but which I think flies over their heads most of the time (also, really, I hate Shakespeare and don’t think it’s nice at all because I’m an impatient asshole).

Anyway, I’m pretty much fizzing all over the place because of this, offering him my copy of Divergent, asking him when they’re going to start…and then, one night at dinner when we’re eating at gross Appleby’s, he tells me, no he doesn’t need a copy, because they aren’t reading it. Instead they are going to read dumbass MacBeth and the teacher will READ DIVERGENT TO THE CLASS.

At this point, Matilda, whips her head up from her plate and says, “She’s reading it to the class? What? Are you in kindergarten or something?”

I should point out that Matilda is eight years old. But I was completely gobsmacked alongside of her. What the fuck is this reading out loud to 10th graders? Can’t they afford copies of Divergent? I can buy that – but READING IT TO A CLASS OF 10TH GRADERS? Is that what we’ve been reduced to? Is it because kids won’t read? Because schools can’t afford any BOOKS? (Grody old MACBETH?)

I want to kill something with my hands this makes me so mad. Someone, dose me with perspective, please.

One Comment

  • Holly on Sep 16, 2011 Reply

    That is weird. I think Sid should ask his teacher about it–ask why they are mot reading the book themselves–that his aunt thinks really highly of the book and is teacher herself and it got him wondering…it is weird. I would think they would be reading Macbeth outloud in class, if nothing else. Divergent is so yummy to read and I would think any 15 year old would love to read that book…also, the watching of movies based on books? What the hell? That teacher should be fired. We did watch some screen productions of Shakespeare in high school–maybe one per year–but we did not watch movies in lieu of reading…the education system is fucked. Don’t get me started on a rant…

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