Monday, May 22, 2006

High School Reading List

It doesn't take much effort to find a recommended reading list for high school students. Many learned minds have taken the challenge of creating a list and deciding which books make their list and which do not. There are many great books to choose from, and only four years of high school to read them. Time is the only limiting factor for facilitating maximum learning.

Just like any top 10 or top 100 list, we all can argue over which books deserve to be mentioned, and which books do not. Half the fun of reading such lists is debating which books were left out, and which ones should have been. Again, time forces the list to be limited, with many excellent books always left out.

So what does the Olentangy School District do when confronted with the challenge of creating a reading list from the many great classics? It assigns some of its college prep students to read Mark Hadden's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I found this book on no list of classic must-reads. In fact, this book published in 2003 is as profane as it is vacuous. The question is what teacher in his or her right mind would assign this book to students? And what administrator would back up the teacher's selection of this book?

The beauty of the internet is that anyone with web access can go to and search books for various words. This allows parents and community members to see what students are reading without having to purchase or borrow the book. Want to search the content of The Curious Incident? Just click over to Amazon and enter profane words in the search box. You'll be shocked, as are many parents in this district.

With so little time between 8th grade and freshman year of college, the Olentangy District has chosen a peculiar approach to its mission of facilitating maximum learning for every student.

This all leaves me wondering what the staff and administration consider classics? And what they consider maximum learning? And I'm a board member.

Jim Fedako
Member, Olentangy Board of Education


Robert Shearer said...

This is not a disrespectful question, nor a putdown.

How did you ever get elected?


Anonymous said...

"aren't you the Olentangy school board member whose children are home schooled? Do you have any background in education other than sitting on an administrative board? I'm a 39 year resident of the community, have children in the district's schools, and have been a teacher for the last 16 years, and I trust the people who are trained to teach more than a bureaucrat who is offended by "profane" language that is found in many of the books you would consider classic.

Jim Fedako said...

Interestingly enough, I taught in Harlingen, Texas and in Jamaica with the Peace Corps in the early '90. Throw in being involved homeschooling - though only slightly involved since me wife does the real work - and I have teaching experience. But, who cares?

Anonymous obviously misses the point that parents must be involved in these decisions. I claim no right to force parents to not allow their children to read a book. So, why does Anonymous demand the right to force parents to allow their children to read books of questionable nature?

Empowered parent said...

Jim Fedako's wife has been invaluable in planning classroom parties, and as a classroom volunteer for those years that their children have attended Olentangy Schools. Jim cares so much about his children and others that he is willing to research, ponder, and voice an opinion on controversial topics that others will not. He has empowered me as a parent. I am a parent and a teacher. Most neighbors do not solicit or want my advice in regards to raising their children. They do not subscribe to my morals until...I am seated behind a teachers desk. Yet, I am the same person, your neighbor who also happens to be a teacher.. Why are we so willing to let other parents,who just happen to be teachers or administrators become experts in our children's lives? I am a teacher and love teachers. They all genuinely care about children and I will defend them to the end. But they are only your neighbors, your children's friends parents, etc. Mr. Fedako has been trying to teach us that we are the experts in our childrens lives. Not the neighbor who happens to work at a school. I for one, have learned my lesson.