Should classic literature continue to be incorporated in English curriculum?


In advanced English classes year after year, I’ve been assigned to read both over the summer and in class. The Grapes of Wrath, Brave New World, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, The Odyssey, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Fahrenheit 451 are just a few examples of the aged novels that I have been tasked with reading, comprehending, and analyzing all for a grade. 

Several of these books have received widespread opposition because of their contents; therefore, what the contents of these novels are actually capable of teaching is a highly debated topic. Whether these books are positively informative or evidently contaminated with inappropriate subjects for high school students, they are both included in and banned from school districts all around the United States. 

An article posted on the website iHomeschoolNetwork defines a classic novel as a book that is accepted as noteworthy and exemplary and is worthwhile to read and study for a glimpse into the past, present, and future of human life. The article argues that classic literature offers seven benefits: moral messages, increased vocabulary, historical and cultural knowledge, opportunities for critical thinking, inspiration, and knowledge about authors’ lives. 

The post includes that the moral messages these novels provide must be paid attention to. Classic literature should be able to inform about life lessons through human history and demonstrates that the bulk of life’s problems follow the same basic patterns. An article posted on the website UltimateHomeschoolPodcastNetwork expands on this by describing that through classics, readers are provided the opportunity to collect a deeper understanding of history and varying cultures, beliefs, and values. 

My life would definitely not be the same without being aware of the complex, slightly disturbing lifestyle and unorthodox thoughts of Holden Caulfield. Was I absolutely uncomfortable while getting through the pages of The Catcher in the Rye? Yes. But, I was also constantly intrigued by Holden’s inner thoughts and constantly paranoid as I questioned whether his narration was the total truth. 

You should read the classics in 2019 to unlearn the shallowness and impatience you are learning in your hyper-accelerated 21st century life.”

My life would definitely not be the same without experiencing the heartache of the Joad family while I read about their frustrating experiences in The Grapes of Wrath. I remember being in awe of the utter bravery and fearlessness that John Steinbeck exhibited through exposing the reality of a situation that many chose to turn their backs to. Realizing that millions of people experienced similar situations to the Joads physically made me sick to my stomach, and I was thankful to have been provided an opportunity to learn about the Dust Bowl through the perspective of a family that attempted to survive through it. 

Classic literature seems to be uninteresting because the history that is discussed within it appears to be so incredibly far away from the present. Likewise, clever authors of classic literature are so talented at painting a scene with their wise explanations that contain advanced adjectives and comparisons. So, sometimes it is extremely challenging to analyze classic literature because it is written with a larger range of words within the English vocabulary that are not as utilized as they used to be. 

An article on TieOnline states that there are numerous works of literature that are just as worthy as classics but more relevant to high-school students today. It argues that modern pieces such as The Hunger Games, Life of Pi, Unwind, and The Kite Runner could replace the typical classics incorporated into the curriculum. It affirms that when districts incorporate classics into curriculum, teachers teach the required classic texts at the expense of students’ engagement. 

I can’t remember the last time I obsessed over a book, and I am not always an avid fan of the classic books I have been required to read in school. However, classic books do provide a glimpse into various historical events in an engaging way—they are, without a doubt, more interesting to read than a history textbook is. I am unsure that the life lessons I have been taught and shown in classic novels could have been demonstrated successfully through a different outlet, and I am grateful that I have gained the lessons that I have through classic literature. 

An article on the website Medium summarizes why classic literature should be continued to be analyzed and taught perfectly: 

“You should read the classics in 2019 to unlearn the shallowness and impatience you are learning in your hyper-accelerated 21st century life.”