During my mid to high-school years, books had saved me. I found my place in English, Drama and Creative Writing classes. I didn’t seem to fit the rest of the mold of kids and as I was often depressed and ill socialized, the classics were my friends and I spent many days lost inside the pages of Salinger, Bradbury, Orwell and Wolfe – amongst others. They seemed to reach through the darkest part of my life and break through the walls that I shielded myself with; in many ways I felt that they understood on a deeper level the absence of my normalcy.
They were also the reason I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Today I read on The Telegraph that Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird (and other classics) will be removed from the U.S. Curriculum come 2014 and replaced with Non-Fiction work Manuals, such as: Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.
This is all in an attempt to ready children for the workplace. I don’t think I have ever read something more depressing.
What happened to expanding our children’s minds with creativity? Literature draws us into the human experience and prepares us in many ways for Life. It draws on the imagination, gives us reasons to believe in the impossible and stretches us to question, to seek out and go beyond the boundaries of what we know into what ‘could be’. When did ‘work’ become Life? When did ‘work’ become our only sole reason for education?
Being the child I was, without Literature I would have been lost without navigation in a very dark period of my life, no compass to show me the way through the sea of disillusionment of the world around me. I would have felt terribly, terribly alone. I think if all I had to guide me was a book on the Recommended Levels of Insulation, I wouldn’t have made it very far through Freshman year.
My teen was actually telling us a story regarding his English class the other day when my husband and I picked up on the fact that the Freshman’s were reading Twilight and watching the movies as a part of curriculum. Honestly? I like Twilight, don’t get me wrong, but it’s junk food novels in a grocery store of organic natural foods. We assumed it was just something fun for the kids, a way to break through the teen/teacher barrier and now after reading this I am left wondering if this is the ‘new education’. And I can certainly see why more and more families are turning to Home & Charter Schooling.
There is a lot more to Life than work manuals and pop culture.
This is another reason, in the multitude of other reasons, why I think I will be home-schooling my tot in the years to come. American Education is beginning to fail, in my opinion and this is a neon blinking sign pointing in the wrong direction.