Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reflections: What Are Your Feelings About "Classics"

The other day, I ran into two different quotes about classics...

1.  Niecole from Fantasmagoriese posted an interesting quote by Mark Twain.
"'Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read."
2.  And Lisa from Her Book Self posted a thought-provoking quote from Clifton Fadiman.
"When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before."
Growing up, I read as many books as I could get my hands on.  One summer, my dad bought me a dictionary that included a list of classics.  I decided to read every book on the list for my summer reading.  Well... it didn't go well.  The books that I started, I managed to finish because that's what I do.  However, I didn't enjoy most of them and have steered away from them as much as possible.  I found they were boring and old-fashioned.

Fast-forward some years... I became a teacher!!!

I really struggled to get my students to connect with books.   So many of my students were reluctant to read anything (so frustrating for both a teacher and a lover of books).  On top of this, I was forced to make students read books that were considered classics.  What is a person to do?  Especially, when I wasn't sure if I agreed with forcing students to read books in which they had no connection.  Some of them were books I didn't even want to read.  One teacher told me that any book that wasn't a classic, was garbage and that there are some things students must be familiar with in order to navigate society.

However, I admit that as I got older, I enjoyed classics more than I did the first time around.  So I began to wonder if it takes maturity for some books of this sort.

So I ask you...
What is your feeling about classics?  Do you agree with the Mark Twain quote or the Clifton Fadiman quote? And what about maturity? Is this required to connect with or enjoy classics?

And should classics be the primary (and in some instances ONLY) books in the curriculum for our students?  Does it make sense that our students are reading the same books in class, that our parents read?  And is that a bad thing?

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1 comment:

  1. I think I'm lucky, as I'm a rare person who didn't read classics growing up even though I was a book lover, and my school didn't have me read them either. As an adult I am now getting into classics for the first time and loving most of them. This year doing a mini classic challenge and have been trying to build up my collection to try out.


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