High school English classes have filled their curriculums with texts containing outdated diction, commonly drawing from names such as Homer, Donne and Aristotle. This translates to teachers requiring rhetorical analysis from students who must spend countless hours pondering the meanings of certain antiquated words. Pupils should not be obligated to read these obsolete works.
While some adolescent teenagers may enjoy reading ancient text, superintendents across America have to face the facts: the majority of the student population does not want to read antiquated literature. Educators who create the standards should add contemporary books that reflect modern society to the repertoire.
Learning obsolete English forces the student to dwell on interpretations of the past, which hinder rather than bolster the reading ability of some students. Subsequently, pupils will begin to dread analyzing outmoded language for two to three hours every time they are assigned pages to read.
Once students develop a hatred for this unnecessarily long and arduous reading, they will inevitably be exposed to online sources, such as Sparknotes and Shmoop, that summarize entire novels and passages. These websites encourage laziness in the student, diminishing the teacher’s purpose of assigning the outdated novels in the first place.
If the school systems across America refresh their standards by adding modern novels, students may regain their lost fervor for reading. Implementing texts that reflect pertinent information relative to modern society can engage students to read, allowing them to find value in the author’s themes.
Novels released in the last few decades offer readers a chance to approach recent events with a different perspective, allowing a student to express empathy. Take the novel “Salvage the Bones,” (2011) for instance. Author Jesmyn Ward sets the story in 2005, during the catastrophic period of Hurricane Katrina.
The story touches upon an African American family preparing for the storm ahead, offering modern insight into the devastating hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast region. Narratives about modern catastrophic disasters such as the one above can appeal to a general audience.
Novels based on these topics would be appealing to read for students, striking them about the recent difficulties embraced by minority communities.
Comparatively, a story about a tragic hero and his conquest to find his homeland would diminish this effect, as a student and a epic hero have little common ground.
Pupils should enjoy reading books that allow them to have a better understanding about the modern world, instead of painfully reading archaic texts just to ace the next literary comprehension test.
In the words of the Irish poet Oscar Wilde; “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” And most students certainly don’t want to read “The Odyssey” over again.