Curriculum has to have a point of view

I have a distaste for the meme “just let them choose what they want to read.” The weakest argument, I think, is that not all students even read x book that was assigned reading:

Perhaps 5-7 students take over the role of answering the teacher’s questions. Some, but not likely all, of these students have completed the reading as assigned. The rest of this small group have read some of the text – enough to get by in conversation. From here, we have the handful of students who maybe started the reading, but decided to look online to see what others had posted rather than reading the actual text.

I do get what is being said here, and appreciate the author’s effort to educate every child equally. It’s just that it sounds like he actually is.

Why must “every” student actually read the Shakespeare to have learned it? Students whether adults or children vary their intake of such stuff by learning through second- and third-hand manner that defines their learning style and priorities. This meta learning “defines” their tastes that makes their choices compelling. Choice happens when there is something to choose against or along side of.

It could be that choice can be as disengaging as no choice. A mature English curriculum is one that is bold enough to say “these books are great and influential to all of mankind” (so you really ought to learn them) yet at the same time wise enough to acknowledge that this statement is just the beginning (and so you really ought to find masterpieces on your own terms).

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