Should Of Mice and Men be taught in high school to teenagers? Should Of Mice and Men be taught in high school to teenagers?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Steinbeck was one of the greatest American writers, and some of his works should be introduced to students for that reason alone, Of Mice and Men is characteristic of Steinbeck's writing. He was especially interested in the lives and problems of working men who were engaged in agricultural labor. His writing also shows his love for nature. Of Mice and Men is full of poetic descriptions of the cultivated and uncultivated land in his native California. Since Of Mice and Men is very short, only a novella, it makes easy reading for young students and could induce some of them to go on to read some of Steinbeck's longer works such as The Grapes of Wrath.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that Of Mice and Men should be taught to older students. As mentioned earlier, it is descriptive of a time that ironically, is somewhat similar to our time. The economy was suffering and people struggled to stay afloat financially.

We also see two very different men sticking together. One (Lennie) is in need of a protector and advocate. The other (George) goes out of his way to see to his friend's well-being. What a nice message for students.

The ending is tragic, but people often face situations where they thankfully do not have to kill someone to save him, but where some kind of intervention is necessary, or a friendship dissolves because of a problem that cannot be reconciled between people. Even in this situation, George cares deeply for Lennie, hoping to save him from the mob.

There are a number of worthwhile themes in the story that young people can benefit from reading. I think the book should stay in the classroom.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I've taught this novella to eighth-graders as well as seniors, and I much prefer teaching it to seniors. There is a lot of swearing, and it does grow uncomfortable when reading aloud in eighth grade; I have seniors read this on their own with little out-loud reading. I also think it's a great way to talk about archetypes, something more accessible to the older groups. (My favorite example of the "big dumb guy" vs. the smart little guy which we've identified is Foghorn Leghorn and the "Chicken Hawk.")  It's a good story with lots of good human nature as well as literary things to discuss--and it adds to their framework of classic literary figures from which and to which analogies and references are often made.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I have taught a unit over this novel numerous times in sophomore English classes, always with success. When presented properly, students respond with sensitivity to Lennie's personality and mental challenges, and they absolutely respond to the friendship between George and Lennie. In my experience, they are much less focused on Curly and his wife than on George and Lennie's relationship and their dream. Also, Crooks in his isolation draws their sympathy, and the cruelty in shooting the dog always angers them. One of the most positive results of teaching this novel is that it takes students into the lives of the dispossessed and homeless and evokes compassion for and...

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robfla | Student

Absolutely! A large part of the high school experience should be learning to talk about and consider complex ideas. Often, these kinds of ideas are uncomfortable or offensive to some. Since we live in a world of political correctness, we have moved away from our ability to have reasonable discourse around anything for fear of offending someone.

While this novel does present some challenging ideas and tough themes, this is not reason enought to remove this book from school reading lists. Granted, parents can choose to control what their child reads but a more helpful approach might be for parents to ENGAGE with their child and DISCUSS the challenging issues instead of pretending that they don't exist.

Although I fully believe everyone has the right to voice their OPINION on issues, this type of reply and support for this type of thing is EXACTLY why we have some of the issues we deal with when it comes to children who end up out in the world continuing LEARNED & TAUGHT behaviors.  Regardless of what YOU think is acceptable, it is NOT acceptable to push this type of content onto school students.  Some of them actually don't want to be subject to it, but they don't have a choice do they?  My 15 yr old is experiencing it right now, and is unhappy with having to cope with it.  She's well aware of all of it out in the world, but prefers not to input it into her life, but again, she has no choice does she?

I'm assuming there are no other alternatives to this book right?  Rediculous. Shameful.  This college material at a minimum.   Shame on those who support it.  Small minds, tunnel vision. and it always baffles me how women, mothers, support such behavior.

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gnosisgirl | Student

I teach high school English, and I coordinate the teaching of the book to go along with the study of the 1930's in US History. Since most students (11th grade)are taking both classes, it works well.

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