Secretary of Education, Michael Gove, has announced that he is cutting American classics such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, and ‘Of Mice And Men’ from the GCSE syllabus. His intention is for students to study more broadly, English literature. Emphasis on English.
He wants children to become more familiar with works of Shakespeare and Austen, and so it will be a requirement for them to study a ‘pre-20th century novel, Romantic poetry and a Shakespeare play’ for the 2015 OCR exam.
Whilst Gove’s plea to study more works from our English heritage is sound, he is absurd in thinking that this must come at the cost of literature from around the world. As someone who studied, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, Austen and Shakespeare at GCSE (among other texts), I can confidently say that his reasoning is absolutely ridiculous. The argument that young students may struggle with these texts is also flawed, and patronising. We should cater to them instead of challenge them, should we? As a graduate of English from Oxford himself, Gove surely should be aware of the many benefits of studying a wider curriculum, one that is not limited to the study of a single nation.
If he is so concerned with teaching children English literature, why is the subject no longer compulsary at GCSE? I fear his changes will do little else but discourage students from opting to take the subject, and boring those that do.
Yet another disappointing blow to education.