A Lit class is like a history class where things are presented in chronological order within the bounds of a certain period or culture. The alternative is what? The teacher picking out material that supports a certain belief system only - inevitably including much inferior material along the way?(left wing teachers actually often do this and that is the result) Or just stuff they like with no relevance to literary significance?
In an absolute sense, one would choose the best, age-appropriate literature. Of course, what constitutes the best literature is debatable, but the principle shouldn’t be. However, it is not necessary to compile a list of great books because, concomitant with the first principle of choosing good books, is the issue of authority. Ultimately, parents should have the primary responsibility for guiding their children’s education.
There is no solution to this problem with respect to government schools, because they have no formal purpose, although it is possible to discern various de facto objectives.
A compelling defense of “The Hunger Games:
My concern with respect to today’s children is along the same lines as the following I found:
A few years ago, a college writing professor, Kay Haugaard, wrote an essay about her experiences teaching The Lottery over a period of about two decades.
She said that in the early 1970s, students who read the story voiced shock and indignation. The tale led to vivid conversations on big topics the meaning of sacrifice and tradition; the dangers of group-think and blind allegiance to leaders; the demands of conscience and the consequences of cowardice.
Sometime in the mid-1990s, however, reactions began to change.
Haugaard described one classroom discussion that to me was more disturbing than the story itself. The students had nothing to say except that the story bored them. So Haugaard asked them what they thought about the villagers ritually sacrificing one of their own for the sake of the harvest.
One student, speaking in quite rational tones, argued that many cultures have traditions of human sacrifice. Another said that the stoning might have been part of a religion of long standing, and therefore acceptable and understandable.
An older student who worked as a nurse, also weighed in. She said that her hospital had made her take training in multicultural sensitivity. The lesson she learned was this: If its a part of a persons culture, we are taught not to judge.
I thought of Haugaards experience with The Lottery as I got ready for this brief talk. Heres where my thinking led me:
Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding peoples moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.