Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Required Reading in Schools: WTF

Hello once again, everyone! I come to you bearing the gift of a bookish discussion :-)

Even when I was little, I was a bookworm. My parents made a point to buy me books, read me bedtime stories, and fill our house with reading material. I read faster than anyone I knew, devouring story after story and filling my head with characters and adventures that have stayed with me until this day. I read everything I could get my hands on.

(Check out those 90s fashions!)

However, I'm not going to lie - I almost always hated the books that I had to read for school. The Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, and David Copperfield are a couple of the books I read during my time at school. Along with quite a lot of Shakespeare. I think it wasn't until my last year at high school that I read anything by a person of colour. And even then, it was only selected poems by Langston Hughes.

Obviously, a lot of my dislike for these books has to do with the fact that I had to read them, and I was examined on them. I think I would have got around to Dickens in my own time, and I recently saw a production of Lord of the Flies and found it fascinating. But torturously breaking down the metaphors in Animal Farm and then regurgitating them to my teacher was never my cup of tea. 

Also, looking back on it, there was a real lack of diversity, and books that would actually appeal to the class. I went to school in Bermuda - but we still only read books about old English people, or angsty American teenagers. (Which were, of course, almost always written by white men.) I really do wonder how the class would have reacted if the teachers rejected The Canon and chose a book that explored cultures more similar to our own. 

I understand that at a certain age, teachers have to focus on books that will allow their students to pass their exams. (I could rant about that too, but perhaps another time.) But before GCSEs or SATs, or other exams, why can't we have a little more diversity - and perhaps with it, a little more fun?

What did you read in school? I'd be really interested in hearing about your experiences!