BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

I’m mad about this – hope you are too

American books no longer taught in English Schools News this weekend that GCSE examining boards are going to drop American classics such as Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible about the 17th century witch trials in Salem. They will be replaced by English novels written by English novelists, especially if they are pre 20th century.
The Department for Education insisted that it was not banning anything, however Gove has made his feelings clear and that’s enough for the examining boards to alter their syllabuses. (Michael Gove really, really dislikes Of Mice and Men apparently.)
Lots of teachers, academics, writers, parents and adults who remember falling in love with reading because of these books are upset and there is a petition asking:

Do we teach literature written in English or the literature of England? Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird…these powerful stories resonate with struggling readers as well as the most able. Please support this petition to let teachers choose from a wider range of texts or, if he persists in this strategy, make Gove visit real schools and try and teach his syllabus to our classes. This is a syllabus which privileges the elite and deprives the disadvantaged.

I’ve signed it and hope you feel able to as well. The three ‘unsuitable’ books mentioned most often are not only classics of literature but also focus on core human values that transcend national boundaries and are far more important than a  bizarre idea of how pride in our country’s cultural heritage should be expressed.

If To Kill A Mocking Bird is out is The Diary of Anne Frank going to be excluded? Does it also mean that the words of the late great Seamus Heaney can no longer be read aloud in English classrooms because he made it very clear that ‘his passport was green‘.

And why stop in the classroom? Our galleries are stuffed to the ceilings with un-English art – should Rambrandt be sent back to Holland, Goya to Spain; and then there is music…

Shame on Michael Gove for thinking that being Minister for Education gives him the right to impose his own peculiar,  narrow tastes on a generation of young people. Shame on the examining boards for leaping to his whims.

If you feel the same please share this post and sign the petition.

 

photo credit: Pickersgill Reef via photopin cc

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2 comments on “I’m mad about this – hope you are too

  1. Luanne
    May 29, 2014

    As an American, I find this sad, of course. Literature needs to go beyond borders!!

  2. bridget whelan
    May 29, 2014

    Exactly. And the three mentioned are not only great works of literature, they explore major human issues:- racism, miscarriage of justice, doing the right thing even when it hugely unpopular, loneliness, learning difficulties, being an outsider, the power of the mob, bigotry, etc etc etc. There has to be room for new writing of course but Gove wants English 19th century novels to dominate… It all seems to be about his personal preferences…

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