Friday, July 26, 2013

Purpose of Assigned Summer Reading?

Does anyone else find it laughable that the venerable College of Charleston assigned a comic book as summer reading for its incoming freshmen? Surely they can read better than that!

And don't blame the English Department; a diversified committee adopted the book.

Perhaps C of C is dropping the pretense of being an intellectual institution.


HdeS Copeland said...

I know some high school students who would have been thrilled with the idea of being able to fulfill their summer reading assignment with a comic book. At least they are reading something.

There is more than one issue here, but I'll stick to one. Others might include the question of dumbing down the curriculum. We should be aware that common core standards are said to be including restaurant menus as valid reading material. Let's also not forget that thoughtful summer reading assignments are designed to keep their minds engaged and allow students to think for themselves.

Just how much subject matter can you (or should you) attempt to keep from college students? "The Kite Runner" for 9th graders at one local high school caused a small ruckus among some parents at the beginning of the summer. Fortunately, the ELA teachers in charge wisely resolved the issue without removing the book.

Maybe if we could just deny the existence of Afghanistan we could justify not allowing students to read anything with objectionable content. We can't so we shouldn't. I'm sure a majority of this year's 9th graders are much more diligently reading this book than they were in reading last year's assignment, if only because they are aware of the controversy.

Perhaps C of C's freshman advisors would have appeared more scholarly if they had assigned a traditionally organized novel based on a similar or contrasting theme to read in conjunction with this one. We should remember that in the not too distant past, say within the past 200 years or so, the concept of a novel was new to literature, too. Adding a comic book to the summer assignment, even as a 2nd "book", wouldn't have been too taxing. - Henry Copeland

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you read it. It is the first "graphic novel" (which is a recognized genre) that I have tried to read, and it is an amazingly complex autobiography. Highly recommended.

Clisby said...

I waited to comment until I could read the book - based on how long it took me to get it from the county library, I'd guess it's in high demand.

I second Anonymous' comment. I also would highly recommend the book.

Did you read it before posting? I suspect not.