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butterweedstrover

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  1. Oh. I didn't respond because there is such a large gap between our positions that it must come down to "agree to disagree." I didn't want to come off as rude and attacking your opinion would be fruitless. I think if someone like Robin Hobb was taught in a standard english class the entire discipline would be taken as a non-serious education compared to biology, history, or mathematics. It is rather funny to think of a class room discussion debating the intricate world-building of the farseer trilogy and arguing about the in world politics and hypothesizing on what tragic event will happen to Fitz next. Its all fun with friends but if I were a parent I would not want my child to waste their time. In the end, the reason people read old books in school is because they have achieved something no modern book has. They have withstood the test of time.
  2. Kind of a delayed reaction... Did you come back just to say that?
  3. Modest Proposal can be taught for reason of rhetoric or irony or political-science, but that would be separate from reading literature. Yes, Twain did have political commendatory in his Huckleberry Finn but his excellence as a writer makes more of it than would a lesser writer. English class also teaches A Christmas Carol which in my personal belief (subjective) is not great literature, but it serves as a period piece just like Twain. In College there are more specific classes that would encompass the popular works of any given period. But in grade school English class which isn't specialized I don't think should read Dickens but with Twain a lot of his work are literary and digestible to a younger audience so he works well in getting students engaged in reading (so to speak) before jumping into much more difficult works. Edit: I think a Connecticut Yankee in king Arthur's Court is better but since race relations are so important to US history American teachers like focusing on Huck Finn.
  4. Lets start here: Do you think Harry Potter should be part of an English Class Curriculum?
  5. I am sorry, but what purpose is there in teaching students about Harry Potter alongside the classics like Moby Dick or Shakespeare? Opera is a medium, and yes things are reconsidered (as Herman Melville was) but there has to be a reason behind it besides "it was engaging". Sure you can connect to the characters and be emotionally engaged, but that doesn't mean it has educational purposes in terms of developing a students capacity to think and analyze.
  6. Whenever you want to study that time period, which is hopefully after our lifetime. Either way that has not to do with English Class. English class is about the great literature, it is not about overviewing modern books that are 'popular fiction'. If you have a class reading King or Rowling you are doing a disservice to the students. It is about learning, not enjoyment. People are not, when taking a biology class, expected to enjoy the subject, they must apply themselves to enjoy it. That doesn't mean speculative biology will be taught because it is more 'fun' than the basics and established laws. And no, reading comic books and Classical works are not the same thing. This is for educational purposes, not gratification. Readers don't learn as much from reading just anything, if that were the case what is the point of a syllabus? When you say language, you don't mean language for medical reports, you mean for literature. That is why it is about reading literature, not contemporary authors that debate modern day politics or social issues. Save that for politics or sociology, not english.
  7. Yeah, what people were reading at the time, what the mindset was, what the people (of that age group) were like. The fantasy elements are a looking glass through which the social hierarchy of school, teacher student relations, and adolescents struggle are enumerated. Um, no. Structure, narrative, etc. is part of how language is used. Literature is about superior artistic merit in writing, how is that writing used for building atmosphere, theme, and structure. It is elliptical and open to interpretation. Political books like 1984, the Giver, etc. are sociological/political debates with a narrative paint.
  8. It depends on how long-lasting the popular fiction is which we can't know until well into the future. We can assume Harry Potter is a period piece because it is so influential to society during which time it was being published. In many years we will look back and examine Rowling's works like we do Dickens. Rowling tells us about England in the 1990s just like Dickens tells us about England in the Victorian period. We can't know which popular fiction will last the longest so we can't determine these things as of now. But that is not for today. Today is not the time to read Stephen King or JK Rowling in class, that is for generations later. As for why English books like Moby Dick are better for English than The Giver I will say it is because books like The Giver are arguments about a political ideology while Moby Dick encompasses political ideology as part of its structure (elliptically, artistically, and thematically). English class is about the usage of the english language, not about the semantics of the debate.
  9. The angels are described as being made of pure wisdom/knowledge unlike the humans Adam and Eve. They (the angels) are prescribed like greek/roman gods which give them heightened purpose like the Valar.
  10. This is also true in Milton's work which is what I compared it too. Even those who were not Neo-Platonists had a western ideal that combined the Greco-Roman world with the Christian bible.
  11. I didn't bail, I just didn't have the time to keep the conversation going forever. Threads have a life-span and if no one else wanted to take it up it will naturally whither and die. Books like The Giver, 1984, etc. belong in a politics or sociology class. Dickens, Whitman, etc. are period writers. They tell you about their society but are not great poets/novelists for english class. I admit the italicized quote was a bit much, I take it back. You can read what you want outside of school, but school is meant to assign modern popular fiction that are not period pieces.
  12. Middle-grade should prepare students for reading. By the time they reach college it should be the norm. It use to be the norm for students to learn greek and latin to read classical literature, then develop into English readings like Shakespeare, Chaucer, and later works like Middlemarch, Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, etc. These are common academic course rubrics, reading Stephen King is not for english class. That does not make them love reading, it makes them dislike good books. It is like feeding a person McDonalds, they will lose there appreciation for gourmet food because there is less instant gratification. There are classics in the middle-grade level. Bell Prater's boy, Jack London (Call of the wild), Catcher in the Rye, but the dystopian stuff should be cut (the giver, 1984, animal farm, Ender's Game, etc.). And of course my all time favorite book, Alice's Adventure in Wonderland which is a children's book. For poetry Byron is a necessity that is too often left out. Whitman should be read in history class just like Dickens. They are period writers, not the classics. Harold Bloom also mentioned Jay Write in his interview with Charlie Rose that I watch recently (an African America poet who is usually ignored). Here is a sample of Jay Write, see how he compares to the likes of T.S. Elliot for yourself: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42745/desires-persistence
  13. I have agreed with most of what you have said, but not this. Literacy is not just about reading. Reading poor texts will fill our brain with junk that crowds out more worthy readings. English should be about developing a mind for literature, and critical examining what the worth is of any text. Not reading what makes people feel engaged.
  14. Non-fiction can be literary, but I find that counter-intuitive. The purpose of fiction is to tell a narrative, which functions best as literature (or "artistic-merit"). Without this cultural device there would be no civilization. Keep in mind the Romans utilized art as well as engineering to promote stability. Why? Because humans are partly irrational. Emotions like love, greed, envy, fear, or grief might have a material purpose, but it does not scientifically benefit humans in their end goal. A person who is greedy could become poor, a person desperately in love could become heartbroken, fear could lead us into more danger, and grief can cause more pain. The human mind does not rationalize or disperse these emotions to increase the likeliness of achieving an end goal, in fact they most often deter us from getting what we need. To better understand that facet we must understand the cognitive dissonance involved in morality or sociability that does not allow for strict guidelines. And narrative beauty can translate information that is otherwise unapproachable through technical (rational) understanding.
  15. He was a conservative for his time, very conservative. Though conservative to Tolkien was rather about the aristocracy, monarchy, and the traditional institutions. As for enlightened, that is a subjective word. None of his beliefs were particular progressive or against what was established (not a criticism FYI).
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