Why do high schools and colleges assign such boring books?

Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Mr. Write, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Sixgun

    Sixgun New Member

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    the very best way to get me to seek out literature in my youth was to force an entire semester of gnawing and re-gnawing upon the dessicated bones of Wuthering Heights in my very first high school level English class.

    timely -- check.
    relevant -- check.

    Never have I seen so many kids wilt. Logically, we followed The Old British Ladies' Bodice Ripper Prototype up with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, another lighthearted page-turner that is again, timely to the 1990s and relevant to the interests and education level of 14 year old boys.

    Reading should be drudgery, children. Irrelevant, tiresome, threadbare drudgery. Exhausting and exacting, so you can overwhelm fellow cocktail-party goers with the latest interpretation of Heart of Darkness, lulling them to slumber, and thus grab the last bacon-wrapped dates for yourself.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I like classic works. I like Conrad. I like Melville. And so on.

    I don't think it is a good idea to load high school kids up with those authors. Maybe give them excerpts or shorter works, and work them into contemporary works that will be more relevant to them and instill excitement about reading. If you make a reader of those kids, a lot of them will find the classics in college or later in life.
     
  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Thy rod and thy Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. Might have been in this thread that I said something like "Let them read Harry Potter to lull them into a sense that reading can be fun, then smack 'em with War and Peace. Bwahahahahaha!"
     
  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    War and Peace is actually weirdly engaging. The biggest problem I have getting through it is that I keep putting it down and then I have to be in the right mood again to pick it up, but if left at one go, I imagine I could easily keep invested in it. Catch-22 was the same way. Books I enjoy reading but am loathe to pick up for whatever reason.
     
  5. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Thy rod and thy Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I actually haven't gotten around to War and Peace. I loved Fathers and Sons, but generally the Russians don't do much for me.
     
  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    You should try Master and Margarita, in which The Devil visits the Soviet Union. Shenanigans ensue. One dude actually has his head torn off (and subsequently replaced) by a giant talking cat. Not your standard Dr. Zhivago yutz.
     
  7. S M Tolley

    S M Tolley New Member

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    I doub't my post will say anything that hasn't been said already, but I think teachers can have a difficult job, I'm sure nobody here would disagree with that statement, but it's all the things we never see a teacher do that can take up a good chuck of their time, even if not the majority. I suppose the other problem is resources, getting the number of books necessary for all the students that need a copy. Then there's teaching style, and I suppose a debate could be had as to whether older titles do or don't have any relevancy in the modern day. After all, is it not possible to ask a class of students about what circumstances in the modern day would have to occur for a similar scenario to take place? Wouldn't make it a little more modern for them? Although, I'll admit I have no idea what title's in particular we're talking about here.:p
     
  8. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I think people confuse folks like me, who wouldn't even pretend to read something I wasn't interested in, with people who at least acted like they read the material.

    [​IMG]

    I'm sure that there are things you get from reading the books that you don't get from either not reading them, or reading the wiki page about them, but I have no idea what they are lol.

    Seriously though, reading a work of fiction you aren't interested in is incredibly boring for a lot of people, and there is no way they will retain it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  9. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    We had to read Anna Karenina in high school. Our teacher was clearly a mad lad, or whatever is the female equivalent of that. The nerve!

    To this day I'm not sure how I did it, but after a book that's heavy enough to serve as a murder weapon, none of the other classics felt like a chore, like they were easy reading in comparison cos I actually wasn't trudging through pages on end about planting potatoes or whatever Levin was doing for the length of a regular-ass novel.
     
  10. Manuforti

    Manuforti Active Member

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    My mum was the most well read person I ever met. She forced me to read things like Shakespeare's plays as a child growing up on benefits in a housing association house.

    So I was a nerd but I can think.

    It may be that the young person does not engage well with the book. They will however be exposed to the themes. These books also go on to shape the paradigm of how we describe our reality.

    So if a large powerful government or corporation tries to control our minds, we say it is like 1984. People are then aware to apply scepticism, maybe offer resistance.

    Also there is no harm in learning to suffer boredom, and apply yourself to concentrating on something which isn't immediately engaging. Otherwise you will stay juvenile and idiotic ala grown men WhatsApping you cat videos and shit.

    It's like a workout for your concentration if nnothing else.
     
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  11. Manuforti

    Manuforti Active Member

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    Just to go ahead and contradict myself,

    Reading back through some older posts in this forum I agree I possibly didn't get a lot out of reading Shakespeare's scripts. At least not out if the content. I saw Romeo and Juliet as being the sort of twilight of its time. A melodramatic soap opera.

    The death soliquay from Hamlet though is Metal.

    " Whether tis nobler in the mind to Suffer the slings and arrows of Outrageous fortune, or take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, End Them"

    Still troubles me that question. In my quest to figure out an appropriate way to act in the world. Lose your temper like an arse or roll over like a pansy. Stoic or Freedom fighter.

    This. The next generation hasn't even had to suffer the imposed discipline of watching something their parents wanted to watch and they didn't. Now jobs! Jobs are going to be a nasty shock.

    We don't care what you think. We know it's pointless. It's 20% more effective 80% of the time. We know not for you. Just do it. We know it's not your job but it is now. Yes that too. No it doesn't make sense to you, no you don't get to understand the value of it. No you have no equity in the outcome. We don't care what it makes you feel. Repeat task punch clock pay rent drink die.

    Many people are in for a shock.
     
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  12. Stephen1974

    Stephen1974 Member

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    For A Level English Literature we generaly had to stick to books decided by the teacher, however, we were once given the choice between The Day of the Jackel by Frederick Forsyth or the Handmaids Tale by a bitter feminist.

    As there were 12 girls in the class and 2 boys, guess what piece of propaganda we had to read.


    Shakespeare (Twelth Night) and Chaucher (A Knights Tale) are of course the two mainstays, but I liked both. We also did Schindlers Ark by Thomas Keneally (Not Schidlers List, Schindler never had a list), Thomas Hardy and John Betjemin. So other than the garbage that was the handmaids tale, the books we covered were pretty good.
     

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