Literary Discussion: Required Reading in Schools

The Bloggers in the Attic

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The Bloggers in the Attic is a discussion train started by Camila @ The Reader in the Attic, it is a bi-monthly discussion chain featuring other bloggers, who come together to discuss a particular topic.

This is the first of many chain discussions we’ll be having hopefully! Below are participants of this discussion dates and the dates of when we are expected to have our discussion posts up, please if you have time, indulge yourself in reading the posts of the people who came before me.

February 2019:  Required Reading in Schools

1stCamilla @  The Reader in the Attic   ➤  4th Kal @Reader Voracious   ➤  6th –  Lara @ Naija Book Bae     8th – Isabelle @Bookwyrm Bites   ➤  10th – Sam @Fictionally Sam   ➤  12th – Dany @Dany’s Book Blog   ➤  14th –  Ben @ Bibliophilic Reads   ➤  16th Kerys @ The Everlasting Library   ➤  18thClo @Book Dragons   ➤  20th – Lauren @Northern Plunder   ➤  22nd – Nora @Papertea and Bookflower   ➤  24th – Lili @Lili Star Reads

Discussion

I graduated from University in 2017, and even still the last time I really had to be worried about Required Reading in school was in late 2013 – early 2014. When I was preparing to write my A-Levels Literature exams. The only required reading I am doing now is for the books/manuscripts I have to read for work, no matter how tedious I find most of them.

But back when I was still in school and I had no choice but to read the required books, what did I think about all the books that were added to my school curriculum? I’ve always loved reading, so I was always curious about each book that was given to us to read either in English or Literature class. Thanks to this structure I’ve read a few classics I would never have picked up if it was left to me and enjoyed quite a few.

Yes, there were many books I hated and didn’t even stress myself reading, thank God for the option of selection. For example Ethan Frome, that book is the most depressing book I have ever attempted to read, then there’s Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, I was so happy to read and devour the book. So it’s a win/lose situation really, but I loved it regardless because of my love for books.

The only aspect of required reading I didn’t like was the over analysing of the texts, and how my literature teachers were always marking me down, just because I chose to view and interpret the texts how I saw it. I don’t think they understood that no one reads the same the book the same way, because after writing my exams, I always scored A or B’s. take that teachers.

 

Lara Kareem

What are your opinions on required reading in schools? I’ve shared mine, now you share us!

19 thoughts on “Literary Discussion: Required Reading in Schools

  1. Ugh, yes, I had a teacher, too, who thought his interpretation was the one and only. I think he completely missed the point of what required reading is (in my opinion) largely for? Like, yes, it’s good to read the classics and know about the era they were written in. But isn’t it also to get readers to be critical and start thinking about what they think and feel while reading? And to start a discussion and to learn where everyone is coming from? (I’m sorry if this makes no sense. I’m hella tired right now)
    Loved reading your thoughts on this topic!

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  2. It always made me chuckle at how in English Lit, they’d be like “there’s no right or wrong answer here” yet in the next breath, “no this phrase CLEARLY means this.”

    Oh does it? I’m sorry were you friends with the author? Maybe he used that metaphor because he damn well felt like it? I hear ya on the marking down, thankfully I never had that problem. I just had an issue with remembering quotes for my GCSE’s which is why my grades weren’t as high as they could have been. If the Government had just kept the exams the same…instead of changing things.

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  3. oh man, it sucks to hear that you lost points because your teachers didn’t agree with your interpretations! I got lucky with teachers who were open to pretty much any opinion as long as you could back it up with quotes and context to show that you actually read and understood the book, so I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been.

    ironically, the in-class reading I disliked most was often when we did “book groups” and got to choose one of several books to read. if a teacher said that a certain book was more “difficult” or “challenging,” my overachieving self went straight for it – and often didn’t like it. that’s how I ended up struggling through Never Let Me Go and Something Wicked This Way Comes – but at least the rest of my group were also avid readers and we got to rant together about everything we didn’t like in those books 😜

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  4. Funny enough, my secondary school Literature teachers enjoyed varying interpretations of texts. We would relate themes in the books to history, fashion, modernity, culture, music. I really looked forward to Lit class. It was literally a book club! In hindsight, we did over analyse but also accepted it might not be as symbolic as some thought. Great discussion train Lara!

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    • Ha, thanks Ada, my literature teachers were such a drag. I used to purposely come late for class in secondary school, I was so naughty, my friends and I would go and chill to pass time, even though we all knew including our teacher we were outside the classroom. We used sugar paper to cover all our windows, and they were hardly open because the AC was always on and also, the door had to be closed, hence them not really seeing us.

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  5. The over analysing, though. I felt like some of the writers were not trying to be that deep, even though the Literature teacher would insist on assigning some almost spiritual meaning to the texts.

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  6. I thought that we over analysed the books, the author might not have had any intentions at all. I enjoyed it and have reread A Room with A View a few times since and read more Thomas Hardy books. I did intend to do English Lit and Uni but between anxiety or whatever was going on there and it didn’t live up to expectations. If you want to be a writer then being able to analyse books is handy but not to the extent you do it in school. Should read for fun and to learn about life not just to tear a book apart, I think. I’ll have to follow these posts it’s interesting.

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    • Yes, the over analysing was so annoying, of books and poems, like the author was just writing for writing sake, but everyone likes putting so much meaning into almost everything. Thanks, Jen, I hope you enjoy them.

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