Hunger Games or The Odyssey?

Katniss Everdeen is the hero of the Hunger Games series.

A rising junior, she’d joined an elite group of students for a summer enrichment program on a prestigious college campus. They were preparing for Advanced Placement English in the fall. She thought she was ready, writes Brooke Haycock for Education Trust.

The teacher asked them to pull out the first book they’d be reading that fall in AP in their schools.

The private school students’ backpacks unfurled as they reached for their copies of The Odyssey and works by authors like Emerson and Goethe.

“And we pull out,” she paused for effect, “The Hunger Games.”

The girl was used to listening to a teacher lecture and reading the text.

“Everything in this summer program, like, every single class is conversation. And just constantly, as you read, as you discuss, you’re taking deep notes. You’re constantly taking notes and learning.”

. . . “In this summer program, we read only original authors. So you’re reading Lucretius, you’re reading, um, Aristotle. Those are the ones we read in our one week there. Um, Metamorphosis of Plants by Goethe. And, to me, it was just so crazy, like, how many of those kids knew those things already and had been exposed to them.”

“We’re going to be taking the same AP test,” the girl said. “The exact same test. We need to know the same exact things.”

This is the real inequity: High-aspiring, hard-working, capable students are set up to fail in college.

Old books in sexy, new covers

ht romeo juliet ll 120628 vblog Sexy Covers Lure Twilight Teens to Capital L Literature


Sexy book covers are luring Twilight teens to the classics, according to ABC News. Romeo “sports a white tank top and a three-day stubble” on the new Penguin edition of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Publishers hope teens who bought the Hunger Games trilogy, the Twilight series and Harry Potter will give the classics a try, if they’re repackaged as teen romances.

Harper Teen’s new edition of  Wuthering Heights, which sports a red rose on the cover, features a Twilight endorsement. It’s “Bella & Edward’s favorite book.”

Via Instapundit.

Reading ‘Hunger Games’ in high school

Few high school graduates are culturally literate, says Sandra Stotsky in an Education News interview. Her new book, The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum, comes out next week. In 2010, she surveyed a national sample of high school teachers to see what books they assign.

. . .  most students in this country experience an idiosyncratic curriculum, a fragmented curriculum whose individual titles don’t relate to each other in any way so that there is no accumulation of literary and historical knowledge of major literary traditions, movements, and periods in American, British and World Literature.

. . . what students read from grade 9 to grade 11 didn’t increase in reading difficulty. They were in essence, being pandered to, not intellectually challenged and educated.

Hunger Games is now required reading in some classes, interviewer Michael Shaughnessy observes. Teens can read the book on their own — it’s written at a fifth-grade level — without a teacher’s guidance, Stotsky replies.

Students who take honors, AP or IB courses may be prepared for “authentic college-level work,” she says. But there’s a vast middle group of students who graduate, go to college and find they can’t read well enough.

They have been shortchanged by an incoherent and intellectually flat literature curriculum reflecting idiosyncratic choices in the name of “engagement,” motivation, or relevance, or trendy ideas from the academy.

Bringing back leveled courses would provide more challenge for the top 20 percent of students and let average students read books written at the high school level in high school, she argues.

Life’s a carnival

Bellringers is hosting the un-April Fools’ Education Buzz Carnival.

Michael Mazenko urges teachers to fear ‘No Fear Shakespeare‘ study guides.

Some fans are outraged that a black girl was cast to play a Hunger Games character they assumed was white. Philip at Writing to Comprehend discusses why readers might miss the race of a character described as having  “dark brown skin.”