An English teacher's view

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Posted by Zeebadaboodee at on January 16, 2001 at 16:04:37:

In Reply to: Salinger - still relevant? posted by jdhighway on January 16, 2001 at 10:40:17:

: "In other words, Holden Caulfield is a white, privileged male," said Michael Moore, director of the literature commission for the National Council of Teachers of English. "In our very diverse schools, the drive to incorporate very multicultural reading is here to stay."

I don't teach "Catcher" because my curriculum is more world literature based, but I believe "Catcher" is relevant to today's kids.

When I first read the book I loved it. I read it again this past summer and found it pretty damn disappointing. As a man of 27, the themes and ideas the novel contains just don't appeal to me anymore. However, as a kid of 16, I truly understood much of the despair and lonliness Holden felt.

Moore's argument (by the way, I'm a member of NCTE) that "Catcher" is about a "white, privileged male," may be accurate, but has he looked at most of the books taught in our high schools across america? War and men.

Would he argue that the "Odyssey" is irrelevant? How about "Lord of the Flies," "All Quiet on the Western Front" or "the Great Gatsby"? While you're at it, take a look at any social studies textbook in the country and see if you can find a great telling of African-american or women's history.

It's hard enough to get the students to pay attention in class, so why would anyone want to take a book away from us that actually reaches the kids. I think the "Scarlet Letter" is great, but how many kids can really relate to that? Teaching is all about making connections, and the more people restrict us, the harder it becomes to to do that. Whether "catcher" is a great book or not is debatable, but whether it reaches many students is not.


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