It has taken me a while to decide how to write this post, mainly because I was worried it would morph into a diatribe if I wasn’t careful. Recently it was announced that Gove suggested GCSE English should become focused solely on British literature, resulting in the removal of 3 ‘foreign’ texts from the syllabus. These are: Of Mice and Men, The Crucible, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I took my English Lit GCSE exams just two weeks ago, and one of the texts I studied was To Kill a Mockingbird.
Gove proposes that GCSE’s should comprise of British texts because we do not study enough of them to gain an appreciation of British literature. I completely disagree with this. To begin with, over the two years I was studying GCSE English, I read and analysed a whole range of British text. These included Romeo and Juliet, poems by Gillian Clarke, Ben Johnson, Charles Causley, D.H Lawrence, the play My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley, and of course Dickens. I in no way believe that I have been deprived of the chance to appreciate British literature.
It was with great pleasure that I was able to study the novel To Kill a Mockingbird as well as these British works, because not only did we study the novel itself, but also the historical context that led to it being written. We researched the relevancy of the text in today’s society as well, making the text both interesting to study and incredibly applicable.
The themes of the text are highly pertinent to today’s society “you never really understand a person…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”. I think that studying other culture’s literature is important, especially since for many people, GCSE will be the last time they study English.
There is a petition on change.org http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/michael-gove-reconsider-the-changes-to-english-literature-gcse#news If you also agree that these important works of literature should not be axed from GCSE, then please sign it.
Do you agree that we should continue studying literature from all over the world?