Warning: The link discussed in this post contains explicit passages from books assigned to high school classes in various school across the country.
I was made aware of this Federalist article by a fellow home school mother, blogger and literary thinker. I am glad she sent it to me since the holiday coupled with some other issues has led to a book blog that is quickly growing cobwebs. I am reading a very intriguing book at present. Expect a review by Monday. Meanwhile, let’s talk education and literature.
The gist of the article is that there are many high school English Literature teachers assigning books to students based not on literary greatness, but on awards, cultural relevance, and the popularity of the authors assigned. In fact, the great books, as agreed on by readers and literary experts across the board, are largely ignored in most high school English classes today.
Prominently featured in the article were the frequently assigned works of Toni Morrison, among others. I am largely unfamiliar with the other authors mentioned, but I am quite familiar with Morrison. Having read several of her books before I decided to shun the Black feminist “genre” more than a decade ago, I can say unequivocally that there are better books teachers can use to expose children to the realities of sexuality and race without resorting to the nonsense combined with smut often found in Toni Morrison’s books.
Yes, I know that she is an acclaimed writer who has won both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes for her work. I am not even insinuating that Morrison’s writing is without any redeeming value, but it’s ideologically unsound and explicit in ways that 14 and 15 year old students need not be exposed to. There are better works of fiction which induce students to higher levels of thinking while exploring the same themes.
Our experience with our children was that they were rarely assigned any books to read at all! The one or two they were assigned were not as objectionable as the books detailed in the Federalist article. I reviewed what they were assigned and double checked with them before I wrote this post, and they confirmed that on the rare occasion that they were assigned entire works of literature, there were few if any passages explicitly sexual in nature. None of it was classic literature, however.
Their exposure to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Austen, Dostoyevsky, Hurston, Booker T. Washington and C.S. Lewis was instigated because and only because they grew up in a home where there were bookshelves lined with great literature.
It’s not surprising that the few teachers who assign books are doing so with a specific agenda to pollute the minds and dilute the moral resoluteness of their students.
Consider this a PSA if you have kids in public high school.