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Melanie Hundley's insight:
1 April 2016
Yesterday I scooped an article entitled "Fiction v nonfiction – English literature's made-up divide." In my comments, while recognizing some of the benefits, I expressed concerns about the downside of genre classifications in the classroom.
When I came across this article, it seemed perfect follow-up evidence that genre classifications can have deleterious impact upon readers by passing on the de facto bias of literary scholarship to students who may not be on track to become Literature majors.
A question arose in my mind...
If we who teach literature teachers were evaluated upon the following two criteria, would we consider our efforts successful?
1. What percentage of our students grow up to be Literature teachers, scholars, or some kind of literati-type?
2. What percentage of our students become completely turned off as life-long readers specifically because of the esoteric nature of our efforts to have them read literature like scholars do?
Of, course the fallacy of my reducing the assessment of our efforts to these two categories, overlooks what we hope is still a significantly large portion of our students; that group that does not grow up to be literature scholars, but does gain a depth of appreciation for what they do read that does motivate them to become lifelong readers.
That concession being made, ironically, I am reminded of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, a powerful attack on established tendency of curricula in universities that tends to pass on the biases of historical events taught in schools, from generation to generation, rather than to encourage a reconsideration of those often un-reconsidered biases to see if perhaps Custer was not so much of a hero as we had previously taught our students that he had been.
Transitioning the thought to the literary arts, we have made progress in reconsidering the long held biases that previously held reign in literary curricula. Consider the reduction in assumption that the "Dead White Poets" were worth more than women writers, writers of color, and cross-cultural global writers.
But, to see educators still passing on biases implying or outright accusing genres such as science fiction, historical fiction, YA lit, as being "entirely" second rate at best by some sort of "default fault" is doing not only harm to our students who we hope to become life-long readers regardless of their eventual career decisions, but ironically even to those we hope will choose to become bearers of the literary torch who I personally, would hope would not enter future classroom, noses aloft, telling students that what they like to read is essentially trash or unworthy just because "those types" of books have always been under appreciated by too many university curricula planners.
Let us not throw a "one-size-fits-all" blanket of condemnation over historical fiction, science, fiction, YA and any other "genres" who have been so condemned.
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Google Apps for Education - Reading Resources for K-12 While I’ve attempted to categorize these, many cross over multiple categories. Clicking on the links will give a longer description that will include images and sometimes an introductory video. Chrome Apps and Extensions along with Google Driv
Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa)