To Read or Not to Read Essay

To Read or Not to Read Essay

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“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald, 1).
F. Scott Fitzgerald opens his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby with this line. This piece of literature tells the story of a young man who ventures from his quiet, Midwestern life to the big city where he gets caught up in the glamorized and scandalized world of Manhattan’s elite. While the novel may be widely hailed by critics as a “classic,” it may be surprising to learn that only 52% of public schools in the United States consider Gatsby to be required reading (NCTE). Independent schools rank even lower, falling in at 49% (NCTE).
The questions become evident: why aren’t high schools educating their students on “the classic” works of literature? What is considered to be more important? Shouldn’t there be a mandatory list of titles students should be required to read before graduating high school to get a better grasp on understanding how to interpret literature?
While these are good inquiries, it should be pointed out that students do not need to learn what society considers to be “classics” to become well-educated members of society. In fact, schools should not be required to teach specific texts because it not only takes away from the individualism of the educator and his or her teaching style, but also detracts from the diversity of knowledge based upon the different learning experiences of the students.
One of the foundations the United States prides itself on is the freedom of choice. This freedom is given to every citizen of the nation, including educators and their students. By setting up a required reading list, this freedom would be stripped away. However, it is un...


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“Common Core State Standards Initiative l The Standards”. Common Core State Standards Initiative l Home. N.D. Web. 31 March 2011. .

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925.

Greer, Michael. “New NCTE Books Stirs Debate on Poetry Canon.” The Council Chronicle Feb. 1996

“National Academic Standards Are Released - NYTimes.com”. The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Dillon, Sam. 2 June 2010. Web. 31 March 2011. .

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) “Most Frequently Required Titles Grades 9-12.” 1992. Print.

Pirofski, Kira Isak. “Multicultural Literature and the Children’s Literary Canon.” 23 Oct. 2006. .

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