Read the following sources carefully. Then write an essay that develops a position on whether or not there should be specific texts all students of high school English must read. Synthesize at least three of the sources or support.
Have you ever wondered how life would be if everyone learned the same thing? Seems like we’d all be pretty equal, living with the same knowledge. In high school, it seems logical to read the same texts in all English classes. The canon gives a list of specific works that should be read during your high school years. But reading the same texts doesn’t necessarily have just benefits. While it’s helpful in some cases, specific texts that all high school English students read shouldn’t be required. High school English students shouldn’t read specific texts because doing so doesn’t expose them to diversity and lacks multicultural literature, as well as lacks teacher flexibility.
High school students’ reading the same specific texts lacks diversity and multicultural literature. The canon is an “authoritative list” that consists of works to be read by a certain point in high school (Source A). This authoritative list, though, lacks diversity. The authors included in this list all happen to be white men, with few women writers being acknowledged (Source A). Multicultural literature is a valuable learning tool that enhances language development and thought processes, teaches respect for various cultures, and supports a child’s feeling of self-worth. Using the canon alone prohibits the free use of multicultural literature. This tool doesn’t provide much for multicultural appreciation (Source E). Lacking diversity and multicultural literature has adverse effects on students’ education.
Reading specific texts takes away teachers’ flexibility. In public schools, the percentage of books read that are in the canon is significantly higher than independent schools’ percentages. In independent schools, teachers have more freedom in the reading selections, which is why their percentages are lower (Source B). Every teacher should be able to make their own decisions. Clayton Eshleman, editor of Sulfur poetry journal, agreed with that statement. Without the freedom to be flexible in choosing literature, teachers can have a difficult time teaching. Because people read on different grade levels, it would be difficult for a teacher to accommodate for a student if they have to use a specific text that may be too advanced or basic for that student. Some teachers may also find the texts inappropriate, and they should have the decision to read it or not (Source C). Therefore, the use of particular texts has no positive effect on teacher flexibility/autonomy.
While there are reasons why high school English students shouldn’t read the same specific texts, there are also some why they should. Teachers should be able to make their own decisions, but everything has a counter-argument. Some might argue that not all teachers are qualified to make their own decisions on what to read in the classroom. In this case, specific texts would be extremely helpful. This argument has a weakness, which makes it invalid. Because there is only a small minority of unqualified teachers, it wouldn’t be fair to take away their creative rights in their classrooms. The majority of teachers are qualified and a couple of “bad apples” shouldn’t reduce their freedom. While reading specific texts is reasonable for unqualified teachers, it’s not beneficial to the experienced ones.
Think about if everyone was equal, all retaining the same knowledge. It seems like we’d live peaceful lives. As stated in the above paragraphs, reading the same reading selections doesn’t necessarily have just benefits. It’s helpful in some cases, but specific texts shouldn’t be required for all high School English students. All in all, due to the concealment of diversity/multicultural literature and teacher’s lack of freedom, high school English students shouldn’t read the same literature. Using the canon in all high schools would make them similar, and that’s a positive and mostly a negative. In general; everyone should make their own decisions and have creative rights instead of conforming to a list.