What one text, written by someone from the United States or Canada, do you really enjoy and believe should be taught to high school students? Please also briefly state why you feel this text should be included in the high school curriculum.
I am looking to include a broader range of authors and texts in my students' curriculum. The text can be any genre (poetry, novel, nonfiction, fiction, etc.). Thank you!
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If you are really looking for any genre including nonfiction, non-literature stuff, I would advocate at least using excerpts from:
- Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. This is an important book because it provides a nonracial and noncultural explanation for why Europeans came to dominate the world.
- The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria. This is important because it shows us that America should not fear the rise of other nations in terms of economic power. This is an important lesson to learn in this time of fear of China, etc...
I have to second the nomination of Zakaria, although I think it could go for almost anything he writes. He has a way of presenting complex economic and foreign policy problems in terms the average layman, or student, can understand.
As for my other picks, I would include A Peoples History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, not because I want all students to buy his every argument, but because his ideas are thought provoking and different, and seem to engage students and encourage more critical thinking.
Then I would pick anything by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a fantastic Presidential scholar and historian.
If you are after fiction, rather than non-fiction, I would have to put in a vote for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. All of her work is excellent, but this one deserves to be taught as it presents a future America where only a few women are now fertile, and thus they are rounded up and given to high-ranking American's to be their "handmaid" and bear children for them. Fascinatingly disturbing...
I agree with The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood...Every time I've taught this novel that the most interesting debates and conversations erupt...even from the most passive of students. It's a fascinating read, but infringes completely on the human rights that we in the Western world guard so vehemently.
I would also argue for anything by Mark Twain and Edith Wharton. Both of these authors give interesting insights into human nature, class, and prejudice...both also have a sense of humor that I find refreshing.
I have used The Handmaid's Tale many times (it is one of my favorites also for discussions). Thank you for all of your suggestions!
My choices probably won't help you broaden your teaching remit as I would go for To Kill a Mockingbird with Of Mice and Men a close second. After seventeen years I do try to flirt with new texts but I find that the level of discussion and social awareness gained from discussing these texts has a great impact on students.
I would like to teach Cormac McCarthy's The Road. To start, I feel that it is written in a way that is literate and compelling. It discusses whether there is room for hope in the darkest of times. Given that America is either in the midst of a recession or what some are calling a jobless recovery, it seems that these are depressing times. Is there room for hope?
I have just finished reading Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry. I would highly recommend this wonderful novel to everyone. It is a tender and beautiful story of a family living in Bombay/Mumbai, India in the late 20th and early 21st century. I have read everything that he has written and love his way with language. I love the way the title operates on more than one level. A gifted writer.
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