Oh, the Change theme...
First, let me thank all of you who read The Daily Grind. I hope that this year will offer you thought provoking, humorous, and honest reflections from this English teacher.
This morning I sauntered over to John Foley's website because I hadn't stopped by in a few weeks. Mr. Foley and I taught together during my Seattle days, and I wish he were still a physical colleague instead of a virtual one. He was an underrated teacher at the school, not gaining the same press as some of our more notorious counterparts. His list of published books appears on this page of his website. I envy his publications.
Recently, he wrote as a guest columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer advocating for the removal of long-suffering texts like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from modern English curriculums. Some of the commentor believed it be satire, which wouldn't surprise me, and others called for Foley's firing.
Whether satire or honesty, the idea isn't void of merit. When it comes to the High School English Class Canon, there isn't any divine guidance. However, the following are the basic and standard texts throughout high school:
9th--Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men
10th--Julius Caesar, To Kill a Mockingbird
11th--The Great Gatsby
12th--Macbeth, Hamlet, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales
Foley raises the simple question, why? Why do we insist that students read these texts as part of our classroom curriculum? Why can't such classics be part of the additional reading that our college bound students often must choose from? Why shouldn't we find more modern, accessible texts with similar themes for our students today?
And let's take it a step farther: do our Math, History, and Science classes need updating as well?