Unhelpful view of literary study

23rd December 2005 at 00:00
What's this? Another article about English teaching ("Reading ruined by classroom dissection", TES, December 16) written by "a writer". And as us English teachers know, "a writer" is a euphemism for "must have some insight into teaching English not open to any other human being - let alone any English teacher!" As an English teacher myself, I feel blessed.

So, let's see what Ms Pandit has to say: studying English literature puts you off reading. Her evidence? Her daughter, who is obviously your fairly run-of-the-mill, average kind of girl who sits down with the entire works of Jane Austen whilst studying (presumably) four other A-levels. I know many more like her.

While this is hardly grounds for axing English literature from the curriculum, it is also hardly groundbreakingly original insight. I would imagine there are thousands of students since time began who never want to reread some of the texts they studied at school. Yet, those thousands of students have probably been turned on to read other things because of what they were studying. We all know there is a difference between bedtime reading and classroom study.

Indeed, my feeling is that the article told me nothing about the English curriculum at all but was merely a celebration of Ms Pandit's parenting skills. Well done, Ms Pandit. You're well ahead of the rest of us!

I don't know who I'm irritated by more: the "writer" for being so obviously not a "writer" or T`he TES for publishing such nonsense in such a prominent place. By the way, Maya Angelou is a GCSE set text. Is this a bad thing?

Nick Patterson Littlebury Saffron Walden

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