On m daughter’s birthday, I opened up the newspaper and there was an editorial entitled, “Why teens don’t read: English teachers ruin it” ( I think it was a little gift to me, little signs along the path that confirm things for me, LOL).
And part of this article really caught my eye and I want to share it with you all.
(The fast background to the writing below is the statement in the editorial that says, “The percentage of 17 year olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled in the past 20 years). So glad our educational system is encouraging strong readers who love to read.
This editorial, written by a high school AP English teacher, states:
“Every June, when I asked my students at a previous school to write about a favorite book of the year, they mostly gushed over two: J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” For years, “Catcher” was my successful icebreaker for my juniors.
So imagine my dismay when “Catcher” was demoted to the eighth or ninth grade. Apparently it wasn’t sophisticated enough for 11th-graders. That many 17-year-olds identify powerfully with Salinger’s 17-year-old protagonist was a fact cast by the wayside.
But here’s what a former student wrote about this book, “To my 12-year-old self, the book didn’t seem to move anywhere. I didn’t understand why Holden couldn’t just try a little harder at school. By tenth grade, I had been drunk for the first time. I knew rebellion against my parents, the fakeness of social interaction. As a reader in the eleventh grade, I grew close to Holden; he was a friend who understood me.”
In adults’ determination to create sophisticated teen readers, we sever them from potential fictional soul mates.”
While I don’t necessarily agree with the adult experiences this tenth grader was having (!), I do understand the thought that books that come along after you have experienced life can make more sense. Why we are trying to shove sophisticated literature down a child’s throat when they have had no experiences to even relate to it, they are not close to the age of the protagonist, is just beyond me and I feel is a symptom of our education process in which doing everything early is better.
To me, this was really a supportive editorial for Waldorf education, as Waldorf looks at everything in relation to soul development of the child and what the child will be like as an adult. A six year old is still a kindergartener. A third grader going through the nine year change needs to build houses, a home for himself on Earth, and learn about the Old Testament laws as an example of authority relationships. A fifth grader in symmetry needs to look at the symmetry in nature of plants and the Greeks…..It goes on and on.
I don’t understand why Waldorf education is not much more prevalent when it makes so much sense.
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.