Should Bethpage Change the English Curriculum


Mia Dircks, Entertainment Editor

Considered a rite of passage, high school English curriculums are known for their classic pieces of literature. From Shakespeare to Salinger, the classics are featured for their symbolism and cultural significance. Although some books might serve to view the world from a different perspective, many books are outdated and insignificant. Our English curriculum must change so that our students are not reading the same books their parents read decades ago.

One main reason that a change in the reading list is desperately needed is that the current books do not interest our generation. Shakespeare’s language confuses many, leading to students’ refusal to read the books themselves. In addition, many books have confusing plots and storylines that do not interest their readers. If we change our curriculum in the BHS English department, new books would help students to read the books and understand them. Many books written in the last few decades have futuristic plots that present an apocalyptic world or a tale about a historical event in the eyes of someone who experienced it first-hand. If we change our required books, there would be a surplus of books that would interest readers no matter what age.

Many of our readers may think that new books might contain inappropriate language or content. However, many of the books we read now contain foul language and graphic details. For example, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye features a story featuring prostitution and expulsion scattered in a myriad of curse words. In addition, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of segregation in the South accompanied by a trial of an African-American man accused of rape. In contrast, many current books would not harm young readers with any inappropriate content.

Some students have books in mind for our English department already. Rebecca Diers, a senior here at BHS, suggested All the Light We Cannot See, a novel involving two different citizens in France and Germany whose paths cross in the end. The novel, written by Anthony Doerr, is more relevant and has a surprising ending. In contrast, she would substitute this book in for the Shakespearean play Merchant of Venice. Why? “I couldn’t even tell you what that was about because it was so boring”. Her comments highlight the fact that students are not interested in the books they read in their English classes. Many students have their own favorite books and can contribute to the revised reading list. In addition, Mr. Malossi, an English teacher here at BHS argues that “Yes, I think that we should use newer books.” Even the teachers can agree that change is necessary.

On the whole, we need new books here at BHS. Because of the update, students will be more interested in reading the books and they will be more relevant to our culture today. What do you think on this topic?