A Case for Teaching Literature in the Secondary School
Why Reading Fiction Matters in an Age of Scientific Objectivity and Standardization
Taking a close look at the forces that affect English education in schools—at the ways literature, cognitive science, the privileging of the STEM disciplines, and current educational policies are connected—this timely book counters with a strong argument for the importance of continuing to teach literature in middle and secondary classrooms. The case is made through critical examination of the ongoing "culture wars" between the humanities and the sciences, recent research in cognitive literary studies demonstrating the power of narrative reading, and an analysis of educational trends that have marginalized literature teaching in the U.S., including standards-based and scripted curricula. The book is distinctive in presenting both a synthesis of arguments for literary study in the middle and high school and sample lesson plans from practicing teachers exemplifying how literature can positively influence adolescents’ intellectual, emotional, and social selves.
Table of Contents
Foreword Michael Moore
1 Introduction: The Need to Make the Case for Teaching Literature
Part I: What Literature Can Do
- Literature and Identification: How self becomes character
- Literature and Empathy: How narrative stimulates emotion
- Literature and Critical Thinking: How fiction makes us think\
- Literature and Social Action: Can reading change what we do?
- Literature Curriculum and Standards-based Education
- Case Study: College Town Middle School, with Taylor Norman and Tiffany Sedberry
- Implications for English Teacher Education
- Teaching literature for profit or pleasure?
- Literature and morality
Part II: Challenges to Literary Study
Part III: Reviving the Secondary School Literary Experience
Appendix A: Additional sample lessons and activities for teaching literature to encourage identification, empathy, critical thinking and social action
Appendix B: Additional, related sample activities
About the Contributors
Janet Alsup is Professor of English Education, Purdue University, USA.