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Thursday, March 22, 2007

O Seclum Insapiens et Infacetum!

From This is London:

Dozens of schools have rejected gifts of free classic books because today's pupils find them too 'difficult' to read, it has emerged.

Around 50 schools have refused to stock literary works by the likes of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens after admitting that youngsters also find them boring.


Critics said the figures are a damning indictment of the quality of state education in the UK and come at a time when fewer than half of all teenagers are achieving basic standards in GCSE English.

A total of 4,150 schools have received large packages of books under the scheme, which aims to encourage youngsters to read great literary works.

The titles include Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, George Eliot's Middlemarch, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and JR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

But Helena Read, librarian at Cotelands school in Linconshire, said: "The bottom line is getting the pupils to read, whether it's a newspaper, comic novel or magazine.

"In an ideal world, I would love it if the pupils came into my library and requested some of the classics, but the fact of the matter is that pupils today are living in a different world."


Another school, which rejected the free 'Everyman's Library' books, wrote: "The paper jackets are ugly and unattractive and the binding is dull and boring.

"What is needed is the familiar paperback format with attractive jacket and abridged versions."

Another school complained: "The books are so unattractive they are unlikely to tempt any pupil."

The figures came as a new CBI report revealed that many business leaders are complaining that school leavers are lacking in basic literacy, numeracy and other 'employability' skills.

Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts said: "These books are the birthright of every child in our country and schools should not be depriving them of the enjoyment of discovering them.

"These book were not considered too difficult. It is shocking that they are being described in this way and children who have been taught properly should have no problem enjoying them.

"It can only mean that standards of literary are much lower that the government claims."


Erin said...

ARGH! What really makes me angry is that there could be so many children who like to read and would get so much out of these books, and they are being denied the opportunity. It's just setting the world up for more hordes of stupid people-- people who could have been otherwise!

claire said...

By all means, send them to me! My classics collection (which is quite extensive) has been inherited from my mother, and the pages are all flaky and yellowing.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Praise God my daughers LOVE reading, the classics, and have all ready Jane Eyre - along with Austin, and much more. I wish my sons were such readers, but am grateful for what I have.


Brontëana said...

to erin:

The classics are quickly disappearing from bookshelves in my hometown- we could definitely use these!

Brontëana said...

to claire:

I don't want to imagine what they will do with the books...

Brontëana said...

to law:

If only I could get my mom to read JE! I think I am getting close...

rinabeana said...

Just when I thought I couldn't weep any more for the future... I can only hope that I will instill in my children the same love of reading that my mother instilled in me. My education sucked, but at least my mom encouraged me to read the classics.

Brontëana said...

to rinabeana:

I will be returning home before long... I shudder to think what I will find there. At least in Halifax one can buy classics, but back home I had so much trouble getting the most common classic... No Pride and Prejudice on the shelves, but plenty of those spin-off novels...