Do you know what your teens are reading in English class?
■ By Elyse Askari / Reporter
When it comes to high school, there is a certain “standard” that parents expect to be met. Wholesome, quality education and life skills may be what most high schools claim to put out and send their graduates off with, but deciphering what is and is not acceptable for young adults to be psychologically exposed to in the school’s curriculum is something that some high schools are not considering.
Recently, an anonymous high school student from within the San Jacinto Unified School District made it known to me that her English class was getting into some “questionable” material. She stated that “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley was a required reading novel, and while another book was available for her to read in its place, she, the student, not her school, had to be the one to realize that the original book was inappropriate for her to have to read both aloud in class and at home.
Upon exploring the text, it was clear to me, at least, that her concerns were not overly exaggerated or inflated. “Brave New World” came in third place on the American Library Association’s Most Challenged List of 2010, meaning it was among the top 10 books the United States most wanted banned. Explicit content, insensitivity and perversion of mature topics, hallucinatory drug use, and racism are all reasons the book made this list, and the clear question that rings in mind here is just what is this book doing in the school curriculum’s reading list for the class of 2017?
Further research concluded that school boards across the nation are questioning the educational value of this book, and the only thing standing in the way of banning it from the educational system is its “classic” denotation. Some advocates to keep the book argue that banning it gives power to whoever bans it, and that reading the explicit perversity in the novel will teach young readers what not to do.
Most students go into the education system wanting nothing more than to graduate and achieve bigger, better things. Giving these students a clean, appropriate learning experience, especially in a creative and stimulating class like English, helps to create a positive attitude that carries well into adulthood.
Obligating the youth of the valley to read novels that are recognized for their controversial and inappropriate content out loud in class is not the way to create healthy individuals, psychologically speaking. Exploring what these teenagers are required to read tells a lot about the standings and viewpoints of the schools they attend, and the methods which are used to reach students while they are under the school’s care.