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Old 10-09-2012, 09:59 AM   #106
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I read Romeo and his selfishly stupid disaster with Juliet and was affronted at how those two could possibly mess up subterfuge so badly...

we were forced to read passages of Hamlet or some such aloud, but it's completely possible to read pages of thees and thous without retaining or comprehending a single bit of that drivel.

When asked to analyze some drug-induced horror by Poe, I recall hours of painful reading that to this day has served no purpose that I can tell.

The text does not have to be nearly impossible to read, nor does it have to be boring, tragic and about some fat, pompous king no one cares about.

It doesn't instill good reading habits or any other deep knowledge that will necessarily help them later in life.
I can see now why your books are about as bland as most new age stuff: they lack any punch and human drama that your generation loath so much in their childish pursue of shallow sunny day fun...
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:05 AM   #107
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I can see now why your books are about as bland as most new age stuff: they lack any punch and human drama that your generation loath so much in their childish pursue of shallow sunny day fun...

Quite possibly true! I love me escapist fiction. Real life is unpleasant enough and I was never one to enjoy harlequin type tragedy/romance where a couple of words of communication could have solved the entire problem (reference to Romeo and Juliet).

Different strokes/different folks. I wish that in high school required reading there was more of a balance. If there MUST be Poe and Shakes, it would be nice to throw in some adventure fantasy, some great little whodunits and some fun!
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:06 AM   #108
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I dunno- I was pretty critical of Romeo and Juliet when I read the play in high school. Granted, she was what, 13 or so? a good age for stupid romanticism. I felt that R and J were both idiots, and R, being older, should have known better.

I had an interesting teacher,though,who didn't expect me to find the play romantic, and as long as I could support my reasoning allowed me my opinion. What was good about the class is that we compared it to West Side Story.
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:49 AM   #109
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tragedy/romance where a couple of words of communication could have solved the entire problem (reference to Romeo and Juliet).
it was a world before cellphones and free porn internet

I find it amazingly ironic how so much communication available these days makes up for colder and cynic communications between anonymous strangers miles away and doesn't seem to improve at all on personal relationships where people are treated like fast food.
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:20 AM   #110
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it was a world before cellphones and free porn internet

I find it amazingly ironic how so much communication available these days makes up for colder and cynic communications between anonymous strangers miles away and doesn't seem to improve at all on personal relationships where people are treated like fast food.
the Drive-Thru generation, practically. For almost every circumstance. I love the internet, don't get me wrong, it is actually where I experienced my most meaningful relationship of all (I met my husband in 1994 on the internet - I was the only person in my social circle who had an email address), but sometimes the good stuff can be not so good if it's relied on replacing real life rather than enhancing it.

My husband and I recently read a book called "Alone Together" by Sherry Turkle, which discusses this very thing in great detail.

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Old 10-09-2012, 07:25 PM   #111
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I dunno- I was pretty critical of Romeo and Juliet when I read the play in high school. Granted, she was what, 13 or so? a good age for stupid romanticism. I felt that R and J were both idiots, and R, being older, should have known better.
One of the things most modern schools don't mention about R&J: It's not a romance. It's a tragedy. It is, specifically, a tragedy about the problems that arise from rejecting one's proper role in life--something many modern children have no context for. They can understand "it's tragic to love someone my family hates;" they have no connection to "choosing your own spouse will lead to tragedy and death," so that gets glossed over.

The moral wasn't, "Choose your lover wisely." It was closer to, "See what happens when you buck tradition? Doom. Doom and death all around."

That message has little meaning for modern students.

There are similar problems with most of the "classics" taught in schools. They are very much products of their eras, and some of the continued reliance on them is an overt attempt to keep the values of those eras active. It's not working--kids don't have enough context for that--so instead, we get kids who think that "classic book" means "boring and obsolete story themes" and draw huge meaning from what were originally the side-details.

Combine that with the language shifts over time, and what modern kids get isn't a sense of connection with the past; it's a belief that, a hundred or more years ago, life was totally alien to what they know and therefore nothing from that era could be relevant to them.
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:34 AM   #112
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There are similar problems with most of the "classics" taught in schools. They are very much products of their eras, and some of the continued reliance on them is an overt attempt to keep the values of those eras active. It's not working--kids don't have enough context for that--so instead, we get kids who think that "classic book" means "boring and obsolete story themes" and draw huge meaning from what were originally the side-details.
I agree. I think it would make a lot more sense to teach children using texts which are old enough to have built up a body of analysis and prove themselves more than passing fads, but which are recent enough that the cultural context and language isn't such a huge barrier. There's more than enough post-ww1 literature to full most of a high-school curriculum, maybe with one or two older works to show how things have changed since the 17th century.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:43 AM   #113
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I agree. I think it would make a lot more sense to teach children using texts which are old enough to have built up a body of analysis and prove themselves more than passing fads, but which are recent enough that the cultural context and language isn't such a huge barrier. There's more than enough post-ww1 literature to full most of a high-school curriculum, maybe with one or two older works to show how things have changed since the 17th century.
An English teacher of mine had us read short passages from the Bible, in public school. In his words, this was not done to indoctrinate us, but to acquaint us with a few of the more often referenced passages in great literature.

Despite the uproar, I see his point. I think Shakespeare serves as a teaching tool less well with every passing year, but literature is rife with references and analogies to the Bard.

Same thing with Dante, even though I don't speak or read Italian (let alone old Italian), the exposure to a bastardized translation was important to understanding themes in later readings.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:58 AM   #114
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And kids aren't given the classics and told, "read this! It's awesome!" They're told, "read this, and be ready to explain what makes this story Great Literature." And they don't know. They haven't read a thousand other works of literature to know why these stand out as great. They don't know what mediocre literature looks like--and all through school, nobody will tell them, other than modern YA fic, which is "everything you enjoy reading because it's about the kinds of things that happen in your life." So they're told that the stories that have direct appeal to them are pretty much worthless, and these stories about places they've never been to and people who act like nobody they know, are Great Literature.

No wonder people turn away from the classics, even when they're not forced to read them, even when they do have the life experience to understand them. They spent over a decade picking up the message "Classic = unrealistic and boring but someone says it's important; Books-I-like are never classics."[/QUOTE]


This is what gets me! Nothing has been written since these classics that has any value, symbolism, or literary worth????? Nothing......

Part of the problem is outdated, and antiqued teaching curriculum. There was some marvelous books created in the 60's that I think should make it into the high school arena, that I didn't even know about until I was in college.

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Old 10-10-2012, 09:36 AM   #115
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A football player may need to life weights, but forcing someone to lift weights will not create a football player. It will just create someone who hates weight lifting. A football player has to be be self-motivated to be any good. They might not be a natural fit for football, they might be better fitted for baseball, basketball or track. There sre a great many books that can exercise the brain. We wouldn't require all athletes to have the same exercise routine, why would we think that all students need the same books?
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:27 AM   #116
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We wouldn't require all athletes to have the same exercise routine, why would we think that all students need the same books?
One of the purposes - perhaps the main purpose - of studying English literature is to gain knowledge of the shared cultural heritage which literature provides. Eg, Dickens and Shakespeare have both contributed enormously to the English language, and it's useful to know where those quotes and characters actually come from.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:13 PM   #117
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One of the purposes - perhaps the main purpose - of studying English literature is to gain knowledge of the shared cultural heritage which literature provides. Eg, Dickens and Shakespeare have both contributed enormously to the English language, and it's useful to know where those quotes and characters actually come from.
If the goal for a particular literature class is to examine the cultural influence of literature, there are many books that could be selected. I'd say that to really examine the cultural impact of literature, it would be a good idea to cover multiple books than to cover just one in depth. And not all of the books that have influenced culture are what most people would consider great literature.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:57 PM   #118
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If the goal for a particular literature class is to examine the cultural influence of literature, there are many books that could be selected. I'd say that to really examine the cultural impact of literature, it would be a good idea to cover multiple books than to cover just one in depth. And not all of the books that have influenced culture are what most people would consider great literature.
For American's, in that case, Twain would be a much more likely candidate. And his works (Tom Sawyer and the like) are often included in lists, although I was not required to read them. I did read them years later and was stunned that something like that wasn't chosen over Shakespeare.

Yes, it's somewhat nice to know where quotes originated or where ideas and styles came from, but for teaching, I think there needs to be a balance so that kids have a chance to experience different writing styles. If historical perspective is so important, well then different books would only add to that.

Antykatkat makes some VERY valid points about being able to "reference" the stories and language. I hadn't though of it that way before and it's quite revealing. I appreciated the new perspective and agree with it.

Oh and NameKuseijin--don't be so certain we aren't of the same generation. Just because some of my books involve 20 something characters does not mean I am 20. Far from that age in fact. Perhaps a bit closer to the lady in Sage. Your comment also made me a little more aware of when I throw out that old phrase, "Kids today..." Because hmm. I might not always be right about that either!
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:06 PM   #119
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Books-I-like are never classics."
You've casually mentioned something that I've been waiting to address. I truly believe (and maybe not in your particular case, or all others participating in the thread) that the above sentiment(?) is often times the driving force behind adults looking back and discussing—or writing articles about—"how badly the books sucked that they made us read in school"—how it "almost made me hate reading."

It's not so much a matter of "I'm concerned for the education of our young people, who struggle mightily with these antiquated texts" as it is "why aren't the books I like ever elevated to "Classic" or "Literature" status?"

Many people (again, I'm making no direct accusations here) have a weird obsession with wanting the academic world to acknowledge the literary value of their favorite books. They seem to need the world to recognize their personal favorites as "Classics." As if their love for the book(s) is somehow slightly tainted and can only be made shiny and justified by having young people the world over use them in an academic setting.

I count my blessings that I was never forced to study/analyze the kinds of books I would normally rush home and read for pleasure in my youth. I couldn't imagine a worse form of torture, actually.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:53 PM   #120
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You've casually mentioned something that I've been waiting to address. I truly believe (and maybe not in your particular case, or all others participating in the thread) that the above sentiment(?) is often times the driving force behind adults looking back and discussing—or writing articles about—"how badly the books sucked that they made us read in school"—how it "almost made me hate reading."

It's not so much a matter of "I'm concerned for the education of our young people, who struggle mightily with these antiquated texts" as it is "why aren't the books I like ever elevated to "Classic" or "Literature" status?"
I never had any problem with the assigned reading, it was all easy for me. I simply make the observation that there are a lot of students who do struggle with the material, and that they may very well do better with some other book.

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Many people (again, I'm making no direct accusations here) have a weird obsession with wanting the academic world to acknowledge the literary value of their favorite books. They seem to need the world to recognize their personal favorites as "Classics." As if their love for the book(s) is somehow slightly tainted and can only be made shiny and justified by having young people the world over use them in an academic setting.
It's the other way around. The obsession is with those who insist on a Dresden-level firebombing on the works that they view as "unclean". Who is insisting that young people the world over use these "unclean" books? What is being asserted is that there are many books that would be reasonable for students to use.

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I count my blessings that I was never forced to study/analyze the kinds of books I would normally rush home and read for pleasure in my youth. I couldn't imagine a worse form of torture, actually.
I can. Being forced to study books that you don't enjoy reading. No comparison. When college students choose which literature class to take, they are more likely to select the class which features books they find interesting, rather than books that they find less interesting. Clearly, they don't consider is such a torture to study books they enjoy.
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