I have wandered back around to my focus of earlier this month, education. I began thinking about required reading in high school English classes after Pete(beetleypete)commented that Whitman wasn’t read much in England. I wonder what any of my readers were assigned in their English classes.
We read one Shakespeare play each year. Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear in that order. I assume that they thought each play was a little harder than the one the year before. No one ever connected them with each other. We got no background for the plays and stumbled through them wondering why we were reading them. But they were required.
When I got to college I realized that my high school had made no distinction between American and English authors, referring to them all as English. This was a little embarrassing to find out when sitting in an English survey and understanding I really wanted the American survey. That basic distinction would have been useful information in high school, but it was never made.
Other required reading that I remember included The Scarlet Letter, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I still have no idea why these particular works were considered essential in the early 1960’s. Thrown into each with no context, we plowed ahead because they were required.
Please share any books you were made to read in high school. I am very curious about the variety–that is if there was any.