6.24.2009

The Purpose of English Class

The Book Examiner has a sensible take on the Campbell High School (Litchfield, NH) removal of certain books from the English curriculum. An excerpt:

"The only portion of this story that will be bandied about the newspapers (the few remaining ones, that is), the talk shows, and the literary blogs and websites will be whether or not parents should have the right to have literature that does not line up with their personal belief systems banned from high school classes.

However, it seems to me that wasting time arguing this point (which should be fairly obvious -- of course: parents, on either side of the policial spectrum, should have that right. Huzzah to these ones for paying attention: most wouldn't know if their child was reading The Joy of Sex in class. And some wouldn't care) diverts the spotlight away from the real issue -- what is the purpose of high school English classes? And are the works chosen for those classes even remotely accomplishing that "stated" purpose? Or are they actually pursuing some other purpose?"
She goes on to talk about the fact that an English class pushing a social science agenda is failing its purpose, which is to teach kids to read and write correctly. The piece is well worth reading. It's nice to see someone take a reasonable position on a story like this instead of just having a panic attack about book banning.

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