Friday, July 16, 2010

While we are on the topic of reading programs...

Check out this reading program in England:

Angry parents accuse school of 'dumbing down' English by showing The Simpsons in class

Joseph Reynolds was horrified when his 13-year-old daughter spent six weeks studying the popular US cartoon in English lessons.

Homework assignments included watching episodes of the TV series.

His petition calling for Shakespeare to replace The Simpsons has now gained more than 300 signatures.

But the school, Kingsmead Community School in Somerset, has defended its curriculum, claiming the programme helps students 'to become critical readers and analysts of complex media texts'.

It insisted it was merely following the National Curriculum, which requires that students study 'moving image' texts.

And it said 'many other schools' used The Simpsons to teach English...

In a letter, the school claimed that analysing the opening sequences of the Simpsons was similar to analysing the opening of Dickens' Great Expectations.

To top it off, check out this comment left by Ian McNeilly, Director, National Association for the Teaching of English:

...It's an interesting one...who should decide which texts pupils are taught? People with relevant degrees, postgraduate teaching qualifications, those who have been committed enough to enter one of the most challenging professions there is or...?

Please don't think I'm deriding your opinion - I'm not.
It's just that there is a chance that the English department at your school might: a) be more informed than you and b) be doing a better job than you realise.

Well, what more could I say to that? I'm debating posting a comment to Joseph Reynolds suggesting he check out homeschooling.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education


Jean said...

Oh, he is too deriding the guy's opinion. From what I can tell, the UK's school system is doing its best to be worse than ours, which is sad to watch.

Sebastian said...

If analyzing the Simpsons is the sort of experience that qualifies one for a degree in English, then I don't think much of the professor's qualifications.
I do remember my high school English teacher letting us watch a music video of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which a student brought it. It was by one of the heavy metal bands of the 1980's. But that was after spending a couple of class periods in careful reading and discussion of the poem.
My undergraduate degree is in English and even then, there was a tendency to fail to distinguish between quality, well crafted writing and other writing that was mainly notable for being edgy.
I don't think there are many modern students who need to spend six weeks understanding a set of Simpsons episodes. Though I would have no objection to watching a couple episodes after rigorous study of the literature it referenced.

Kari said...

That's just crazy.
Maybe that's the schools way of trying to keep the kids attention span. Getting on their level type of approach.
Yes, I agree with you-Joseph Reynolds should definitely look into homeschooling there are a ton of options available.

abba12 said...

As a child I was banned from watching the simpsons by my parents. I attended a christian school in the 7th grade, where they decided as part of a project we would not only watch the simpsons, but we would watch the simpsons halloween special. I told the teachers I wasn't allowed to watch and tried to leave the room, but was threatened with punishment and told my parents wouldn't mind if it was for schoolwork.

This is in Australia.

Luke said...

The argument of "they're professionals, back off" falls into the logical fallacy of authority; unfortunately, those comments miss the point: These professionals have gone off the deep end [smile].

On the other hand, there are some good comments about how using things like the Simpsons can inspire students. And I'm cool with that. But six weeks of Simpsons? I don't remember spending six weeks on a single book...


Michelle - The Bolder Tutor said...

I agree with Luke. I am sure there is some value to be found by doing a study of The Simpsons, however, 6 weeks is a long time to study one cartoon. Now if they included other types of digital media/entertainment in that 6 weeks, I could understand. But 6 weeks just on The Simpsons (and I am a fan, but not sure how that show would promote English skills)seems a bit ridiculous to me. Oh, and since my background is teaching, I guess I fall into the category of "professional" although that is a lame excuse. I often get tired of hearing that and really think at some point the school system needs to own up that parents aren't just people who don't care or are not involved. But that is for another rant another day.