2:00 pm - 12/09/2012

Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of 'informational texts'.


American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.
A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.
Books such as JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by "informational texts" approved by the Common Core State Standards.
Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council.
The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.
"I'm afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.
"In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn't it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?"
Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.


I know a lot of people hate Catcher in the Rye, but it's one of my favourite novels. And I think this is such bs because both of these novels are cornerstones of American literature. 

And if you're so dense that you don't know how to write appropriately in the workplace by the time that you're an employed adult, then maybe you shouldn't be writing in the workplace at all.

What are your favourite books from school, ONTD?

UPDATE: Apparently this article mistakenly sourced a satirical artical originally published in the Washington Post. There has been no official change made to the US school curriculum, but if you'd like to read more about the Common Core English Language Arts standards that are mentioned here, click here. Thanks to nicholasdee for the update!
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psychicherz 9th-Dec-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
I read Peter Hoeg's Borderliners for 9th grade English and remember it being really good. Otherwise, most of the typical choices were books I'd already read or hated. Like a band that's technically good but dislikable, A Separate Peace, Hamlet, To Kill A Mockingbird, all the Steinbeck ever just bummed me out.
magwildwood 9th-Dec-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
I really don't like, philosophically, the idea that education is simply preparation for the workplace. Well-roundedness enhances a person's preparation for higher level jobs. It breaks this liberal arts college graduate's heart. And, I imagine, could make places like my alma mater even more privileged and elitist than they already are.
blue_spinel 9th-Dec-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
IA. this is just all kinds of bad and the thinking behind it is very shortsighted.
meow_tan 9th-Dec-2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
I do too, because not every student is doomed to have the boring, 9-5 desk job for the rest of their life.

As someone trying to start their ow business, who makes their own jewelry for her own business, school is very stifiling for me.
nathanandbarry 9th-Dec-2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
mingemonster 9th-Dec-2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
IA. Education should be about the students, not about the people who will be profiting from them in the future. If they want workers with certain skills they can educate them themselves
joaniemaloney 9th-Dec-2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
or even allowing them to pursue/discover interests that are outside of their career path.
suicidemotel 9th-Dec-2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
I'm really worried about the future of our country as the result of everyone encouraging "practical" education over the liberal arts. Nobody will have any critical thinking skills and that is scary.
maeir 9th-Dec-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
also #savetokillamockingbird
reforzado 9th-Dec-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
How is this not from The Onion?
banabee 9th-Dec-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
I didn't like a lot of the curriculum but I'd gladly read classics over an insulation manual or plant inventories.
banabee 9th-Dec-2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
Also Albert Camus' The Stranger was my favorite book from high school.
joaniemaloney 9th-Dec-2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm reading that right now, actually! well, starting it. I got the French version to try to read alongside it.
alexlover14 9th-Dec-2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
I read this as 'international' texts, and I didn't think it was that bad.

But 'informational' and the examples they gave? Fuck that. Poetry was bad enough.
naveedchick 9th-Dec-2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, we read To Kill A Mockingbird in grade 12, but it was the last few weeks of the semester, so we didn't get to finish the book in time. We read half the book and then watched the movie and had our test/essay based on that. WTF.
soavantgarde 9th-Dec-2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
lol in 10th grade we only read like one third of a separate peace and just watched the movie. not because of time or anything either, it was the middle of the semester. I had to finish the book on my own.

in the same class we only read certain parts of julius caesar (idk why either) and watched joe dirt at least twice that semester.
jaimelannister 9th-Dec-2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
In my brother's year 9 class in the UK they only read specific passages of Hamlet and Macbeth and then had to write an essay on them. I would have to read the whole text tbh.
meow_tan 9th-Dec-2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
I read it in 8th grade English honors. The teacher read it too is though, which was obnoxious
joaniemaloney 9th-Dec-2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
we read that in gr. 9 and it was the best thing about my english class that year, haha. my teacher was pretty awful.
redglare 9th-Dec-2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
read it in sixth grade. we'd draw cards to see who got to sit where and read the lines of each character.

also that teacher always had tea in his classroom

god bless alternative school
girlwonderrobin 9th-Dec-2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.

This saddens me because school gave me my love of Shakespeare, my love of reading, and my desire to be a writer. And Shakespeare is/was the man.

Well, that makes me an advocate for homeschooling, if for no other reason than I want my kids to have a love of LIT, not "informational texts".

What is this crap anyway? A war on Liberal Arts and taste?
so_chic_doll 9th-Dec-2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
As much as I like to talk about how sucky my high school was, they did a pretty good job keeping the arts alive-- we still had choir, band, theatre, etc... We even had an improv troupe. haha.

Every Monday for like 20-30 minutes, the entire school had to read too. It gave me time to read books that I might've otherwise not had the time to read.

I wish I had time like that now.
girlwonderrobin 9th-Dec-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
I would have loved to go to your high school. Just for the improv troupe. When I was in theatre, we had to BEG for improv time between rehearsals.

It's heartbreaking that they want to take the fun out of English though. The next generation of writers will all be doing textbooks.
trixx_r4_kidz 9th-Dec-2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
the school that I work at (and it's a Title 1 school too) almost every class they spend the first 15-20 minutes reading, it's beautiful. Of course, they get to read books sometimes on their ipads, but there is still hope yet.
meow_tan 9th-Dec-2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
I wish we had that. My school has such a strict library it is impossible to take out books. The upstairs part of the library is completely cut off to students, and that is the fiction section. The library is just a hang out for seniors which honor privileges, since you can't go there unless you have an honors pass.

Sometimes, I'm particularly boring classes, I multitask by reading. I'm still paying attention/doing my work. I've gotten in trouble for this :/
jaimelannister 9th-Dec-2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
an improv troupe sounds pretty awesome tbh.
actxappalledx 9th-Dec-2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
My high school was like this, too, but then again, we were a high school that was known for its humanities programs, so I guess not surprising. It makes me sad to know that other students weren't that lucky
joaniemaloney 9th-Dec-2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
that's great. our library wasn't in use much, not that I know of, but we did have various bands and a performing drama group. I'm sad that we didn't have a choir, but the school did focus a lot more on technology - we had one of the highest variety tech courses in the district.
beck_rocks 9th-Dec-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
this is sad, i love both of those books. we never read catcher in the rye in school though
vivilicious 9th-Dec-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
omg i love your icon.
And I never read catcher in the rye in school either and I love it, too.

beck_rocks 9th-Dec-2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
heh ty!
vagabonden 9th-Dec-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
I actually liked Catcher in the Rye. What I didn't like were all the people going apeshit over it and how much they related to it ~as outcasts to society.~ I feel this way about a lot of pieces of literature, though. I liked On the Road but it doesn't mean I'm some kind of fucking deep intellectual. That all said, it makes me sad to see both books phased out.
mynamehere07 9th-Dec-2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
That was my problem with Catcher in the Rye too. All the poser goth kids were like "I am Holden." And I'm like, um, Holden had mental problems and ended up in a psych unit. He wasn't some misunderstood ~outcast~ or a voice for disaffected youth. It was the chronicle of someone who is losing their grasp on sanity.

And I say that as someone who liked the book.
vagabonden 9th-Dec-2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Exactly. I had classmates so amped up about reading it, I was like "dude, get a grip."
nathanandbarry 9th-Dec-2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Exactly, this. I always was under the impression that you weren't even supposed to like Holden. Every other character in the book is like, "What's going on with you? You have a terrible outlook on life."
ashtraysoul 9th-Dec-2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
same on all accounts
actxappalledx 9th-Dec-2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
I lovee Catcher in the Rye, but IA. It was written for a generation much before mine, and idg kids my age trying to talk about how much they relate to it and to Holden
noapologiesx 9th-Dec-2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
ia. I love Catcher in the Rye, but I don't think anyone is really supposed to RELATE to Holden. You don't have to relate to or be similar to or even LIKE a character to like a book.
anna_bea2 9th-Dec-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
I never read Catcher in the Rye oop. I feel like it's one of those books I should read, but I haven't gotten around to it.

nooooooo @ To Kill a Mockingbird </3
algore_galore 9th-Dec-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
haha me either, my school never required it (i moved schools though so i probably missed it at some point), and i know the plot line whatever and i'm still like meh i'm good without it
bluesforgotten 9th-Dec-2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
I was an English major and had never read it, so I read it a couple summers ago in college and I just didn't get it. It was fine and I understand the cultural importance of Holden as a main character and all, but I just...meh.
mingemonster 9th-Dec-2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
I read it, but I might as well not have. All I remember is his fucking hair
joaniemaloney 9th-Dec-2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
I never read it in school but I was curious about it so I read it after I graduated, haha.
butt_or_skotch Um...sooo9th-Dec-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.

They act like they can't teach both factual writing AND Shakespeare/classic novels.

Edited at 2012-12-09 08:04 pm (UTC)
lucciolaa Re: Um...sooo9th-Dec-2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
ifkr I'm in a joint literature and rhetoric program rn and we balance practical and professional writing courses with literature studies.

I just finished a course on business writing practices, which was total bullshit btw, but if we can do it, other schools can too.
bodyline 9th-Dec-2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
I never even read it tbh

My favorites from school were the Shakespeare plays. I also love Frankenstein but I didn't read it for school.
lucciolaa 9th-Dec-2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
I hated Frankenstein. We were supposed to read it for grade 11 English. I didn't, and now it's assigned reading for two of my courses next term.
bodyline 9th-Dec-2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I would have liked it if I had to read it for school, but when I read it on my own time I loved it.
jaimelannister 9th-Dec-2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
I read Frankenstein on my own time and loved it too.
britneys 9th-Dec-2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
How is learning how to read instruction manuals going to help someone who doesn't want a job where that's needed? I hate this push towards focusing only on skills needed for STEM careers. It leaves so many people behind.
so_chic_doll 9th-Dec-2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
lucciolaa 9th-Dec-2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
handsdowntoo 9th-Dec-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Its terrible. Even if you want to do something like that with your life there is no reason it needs to take over every curriculum in our educational system.. making people even less well rounded.
blue_birds 9th-Dec-2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
meow_tan 9th-Dec-2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
ugh MTFE
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