In a week where the news was dominated by the European Election results, I struggled to maintain an interest in current affairs. That was until this article reared it’s head in the Guardian last Sunday, anticipating yet another change in the GCSE English syllabus.
After the failure of the great English Baccalaureate plan, everyone’s favourite Education Minister, Michael Gove is at it again. Meddling wherever he can by removing the three major texts on the English course. ‘The Crucible’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, three iconic titles that instil sheer dread into some, but inspire others, are set to be replaced by British writers such as George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.
The article reports that Gove has decided upon this change on the basis that he ‘dislikes’ some of the current texts and believes that children should be reading 50+ novels a year.
50 books, really?!
Clearly he has absolutely no concept of reality. These days children aren’t interested in reading unless it features in an Xbox cut-scene or a Facebook status.
Well not ALL children obviously.. I don’t want to stray into Daily Mail-style generalisations.
As I said before, this story appeared last Sunday in the broadsheets. It took a WHOLE WEEK and the establishment of an internet petition, for the BBC to notice enough to offer a 5 minute slot at the end of their Saturday morning breakfast show.
Still busy giving UKIP air-time.
Anyway after a bit of speculation (one report suggested that students would be expected to study a collection of tweets by Caitlin Moran), the BBC finally clarified what these American classics are to be replaced with:
– 1 Shakespeare play (in full)
– 1 Victorian Novel
– 1 post 1914 (British) novel
Of course this isn’t the only thing they will be expected to study, they also have a selection of romantic poetry and preparation for the unseen element in the exam.
A hefty amount for a GCSE.
While I agree that the American Classics are quite out-dated and over taught, I find it incredibly narrow-minded to only study British literature. When people think of literature they automatically associate it with Shakespeare, Victorian novels and some might remember really struggling the different language style. I think that by having some more modern classics on the syllabus, students are able to engage better with the subject and change the stereotype. Instead, Gove has chosen to undo it all.
English Literature should be taken literally (ha!). Literature written in English, irrespective of it’s geographical origin, instead, Gove seems to have it in his head that the best literature is British. I could be wrong but to me this seems like a typical narrow-minded, upper class Tory mindset.
It’s fine being proud of British literature but to give the kids such a huge workload involving some difficult texts with very little variety…
Well let’s just say, if Gove’s aim was to alienate and disenfranchise large numbers of students from literature, he’s done a brilliant job.
Anyway, enough about what I think, what do you think about this change? Do you think it’ll encourage kids to enjoy literature?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!