There is an argument for losing the word ‘English’ in ‘English literature’. I often think about all the good books and authors out there that I miss out on because they havent been translated, or rather, I dont speak or read any other word apart from English, this includes ‘American English’ as I cant tolerate the weird spelling.
While I think it is good to review the current texts on the British secondary national curriculum, am I the only person who thinks it strange, illogical and, frankly, bordering on facism to dictate that young developing minds must only digest literature written by English authors.
I am going to try and remember what I read at secondary school (incidentally while under a Tory government, led by John Major, havent the foggiest who looked after education but do recall my dabble in state being disastrous, the standard was abysmal yet today now it is brilliant. Naturally Gove wants to revert to the crap system of the nineties to help broaden the gap between the privileged and the less so.
I read: William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’, Susan Hill’s ‘I’m the King of the Castle’, James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’, Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a Mockingbird’ and F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ by Barry Hines. I’m sure there were more but these were the most memorable. Most of these would still tick Gove’s boxes. My favourite thankfully will still be on the list, ‘Lord of the Flies’. I enjoyed the book so much I kept my battered original from school days. My second favourite (helped by the hit song during that time ‘Wake up Boo’ by the Boo Radleys, is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, i think it is criminal this is no longer on the list. It has more messages about social history, ethics and justice than Michal Gove has in policy u-turns.
I work at a place where students decide on the book they will study. There is obviously a long-list but they have a discussion about the synopses of each collectively with the class and then decide which one to study based on discussion. Kids are more receptive to learning if they take ownership of what and how they learn. I think this may make life more interesting for teachers too. So back off Gove and hand the power of what texts to study to the teachers and their pupils. They are the experts NOT you.
Contemplating sending a list to Gove of what he is permitted to read on holiday and see how he likes it.
This blog is for Unicef.
Thanks for reading.