Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A High School Reading List - Back by popular demand

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 Amazon.com 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

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am amazed how you became a board member especially when your own children do not even attend Olentangy schools (except during election time). I am also amazed how you cannot even have the audacity to research the use of young adult literature and its use within a classroom. Students everyday are dealing with a tougher issues than perhaps you dealt with in your day. And, rape is one of those issues. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 women will be raped between the ages of 15-19. Is this not a relevant topic? Do teens who face this violence not have a voice?

So if rape isn't a relevant topic or a relevant "narrator, than would you also state that "Beloved" is not a classic book that speaks towards this issue? Perhaps you should talk to Toni Morrison about its purpose in literature history. Have you read "Beloved"? Rape is an act of violence and unfortunately, it is often without a voice for the victim. Shouldn't all students have an opportunity to hear that voice?

In regards to anonymous replies, perhaps it is easier to reply or post an anonymous response to someone who might go off of them. I mean you seriously researched where the post came from? Perhaps your time could be spent researching the use of literature versus babbling about topics you obviously you have not researched yourself.

FYI... According to Erik Erikson, adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19, there is a search for their identity, where teens ask, “Who am I?” and seek to successfully answer this question. Erikson suggests, the adolescent must integrate the healthy resolution of all earlier conflicts…If the adolescent solves this conflict successfully, he will come out of this stage with a strong identity; and ready to plan for the future.” Erikson considered this stage as the single most important conflict a person must face. If teens to not have an opportunity to face these conflicts, “the adolescent will sink into confusion, unable to make decisions and choices, especially about vocation, sexual orientation, and his role in general.” That is why in Erikson’s stage “Identity vs. Role” confusion stage of young adults, ages 12-18, is where teenager must achieve a sense of identity in occupation, sex roles, politics, and religion and the most important even is peer relationships.

Get a clue!!! Teens are seeing much worse on television, some are even seeing it in their homes... Is it better to keep our kids on a bubble to protect them from the "evil world" or to enlighten them and equip them with their own thoughts/ideas and help them to deal with them now versus sending them off to college to deal with such as SERIOUS issues later when their parents are not as aware???

Perhaps you should step back and reconsider if you should really be on the school board. What is your purpose on the board except to complain about Olentangy?? What are you hoping to accomplish? If your kids are too good to go to Olentangy schools, then what are you hoping to accomplish?

Its great that you feel that you can live in a bubble, but personally I am thankful to not only have the Christian influence at home, but also to have a vast exposure to all types of literature. I may not agree with all of the authors or narrators; however, I have enough wisdom to decide for myself.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I'm a teacher here and I'm disgusted with the reading list. You've overlooked something that is very important. YOU...DO have enough wisdom to decide what's acceptable/right/morally correct. You aren't a child. We expect CHILDREN who don't have enough wisdom and self-discipline to restrain themselves from throwing spitwads and smearing cheese on the toilet seats to be the above the influence of vulgarities rape and worse?

Children aren't adults, and we are responsible for helping them mature. The prom theme was One Night In Paris...come on. They're NOT making adult choices; they're children making immature decisions because they've been exposed to too much too early.

Anonymous said...

And as an addendum: how about those 8th graders performing a sexual act during lunch? There's another fabulous example of how these kids are definitely mature enough to cope with the adult materials we inundate them with in the media. They don't need more sensory overload at school.