Studying Literature in Grade 12
Graduating students in Ontario should only study Canadian literature in a Grade 12 English course. While good writers exist in all cultures, Ontario students should only study Canadian writers because we need to become more familiar with our literature. The reasons for this are the need to focus on our own Canadian culture despite being surrounded by other cultures, the need to promote and establish our own writers, and the need to encourage younger Canadian authors. Students in Ontario taking English should only study Canadian literature because we are completely swamped by the American culture on a daily basis. This is a Canadian tradition because we have always been a “branch plant” of another country starting with England and France meaning that our own culture has never had the chance to develop; we have always been under the thumb of a more powerful foreign culture. So for years, a student in Ontario would study Shakespeare and other British writers: today they may also study American authors such as Fitzgerald. But many schools limit a student’s exposure to the Canadian novel to ISP reading lists. In this sense, Canada is an attic in which we have stored American and British literature without considering our own. No wonder a Canadian student has problems appreciating their culture. Often the Canadian literature studied is very old such as Mordecai’s Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz or Lawrences Stone Angel. The novel Fifth Business, which was published in 1970 over 35 years ago, is still on many courses of study in Gr. 12 classrooms. Atwood’s Handmade’s Tale was published in 1985 over ten years ago. Again while most teachers allow and may even encourage a student to focus on more modern Canadian books for their ISP, their classroom experience is usually limited to studying these old works of literature. There is a trending issue where these authors are primarily English Canadian, not reflecting our modern multicultural...
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