Monday, September 17, 2012

In which we remain stubbornly attached to our squiggly lines and paper pages (Response to "Literature is the new [dead] Latin")

So Michael Reist says that "literature will never die, but if we keep force-feeding it to the kids of cyberspace, its integrity will certainly suffer."

And since he has thirty years of classroom experience, and has written and lectured extensively on the problems of both teenagerhood and education, we assume that he does know what he's talking about.  The tone of the editorial made me think at first that he was actually cheering the demise of English literature; but after reading some other quotes, I think he sees the situation more as sad but true; lamentable, but inevitable.

His conclusion?  "There are two ways to resolve this tension: Lower the standards in English class so the poor kid can go and make video games, or stop the mandatory study of English at, say, Grade 10. For many kids, the only thing they learn in Grade 11 or 12 English class is to hate it even more."

Those alternatives sound like the equivalent of "you don't get a real dinner tonight, but you can choose between fries, candy, and vitamin-mineral supplements."  Or, more closely, since the diners refuse to eat "real" food, we will no longer bother to cook and serve it.  Let them find their nourishment as best they can.
“But I’m going to be a video game designer!” protests one of my Grade 10 English students. “I don’t need to be able to read novels or write essays.” --Michael Reist
Need to be able to?

Would anyone dispute the idea that human bodies still need to eat? Public school lunches are all about enforced nutrition, these days. So don't human minds still need to think, and to know what has been thought?

Around here, school IS, largely, reading.  If you search this blog for the word "subversive," you will find that every occurrence, with the single exception of a tuna recipe, has been in connection with books and reading.  In our view, the immeasurable value of Real Books has not changed and will not change. 

But in Michael Reist's opinion, the rest of the world has stopped caring, and there's no turning back.  The occasional Matilda is simply an odd exception; the other "students" are shut out.

Prove him wrong.
"All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen. If only they would read a little Dickens or Kipling they would soon discover there was more to life than cheating people and watching television."--Roald Dahl, Matilda

Linked from Carnival of Homeschooling #350: Ideas You Can Use.
Also linked from the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival at Charlotte Mason in the City.


Silvia said...

Brilliant... oh, I never thought I would laugh so hard at the mention of a tuna recipe, LOL.

Charlotte Mason in the City said...

Reading books is also what we do in our homeschool. There are days when I wonder if this will be the last generation to read classic literature as part of its education, but then I refuse to believe that will happen. It won't happen....will it?

Thank you for participating in the CM Carnival.