Wednesday 28 May 2014


GCSE student Millie was angry when newspapers reported that Education Minister Michael Gove planned to drop 20th century American novels currently studied at GCSE, to be replaced by much older classics written by English authors... find out why!

Millie says:
Michael Gove is always popping up in the news, and I cannot help but notice this, as I am a student and so affected by the decisions he makes. He seems to focus on upper class education rather than on ordinary teenagers and seems to be taking education back to the Victorian era. At the weekend it was announced he wished to remove classic American novels such as To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men from the curriculum, replacing them with classics by 'English' authors.

I have read Of Mice And Men. It's a short novel, but this makes it accessible and it has an amazing plot with an intense story and great character development. We had some great class discussions based on our own opinions and other interpretations - the book is one of the best I've ever read. If American literature is removed from the curriculum as has been suggested, thousands of teens would miss out. I know that there are some amazing English classics too... but sometimes they take a while to connect with. I tried to read a Jane Austen book but I felt it was very hard going in comparison to the energetic writing in Of Mice And Men. I may feel different later on, but for now I know it's not for me... yet these are the classics Gove would make us all read, and many would struggle. Why take away books that open the doors of literature to so many teens?

Yesterday I signed three petitions to ask Michael Gove to step down because I feel so strongly about this; for someone who is Head of Education, he doesn't seem very bright to me.

Cathy says:
I too am very upset at the idea that Mr Gove has suggested removing such books. I love American novels and also Irish, Scottish and Welsh novels... novels from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa... even novels that have been translated into English. If English schoolchildren can study only English authors then we miss out on the opportunity to understand other cultures and countries. Literature unites us and shows us what we have in common; it opens our eyes, widens our perspectives. To narrow it down to a few government approved texts seems very much to be a backwards step. COMMENT BELOW if you agree with Millie... what would YOU put on the GCSE curriculum?


  1. To be honest, he's done worse. I love Austen novels and many English classics (maybe we could even get a Lord of the Rings study over 5 years of secondary education?) but I have noticed that, in our class at least, a lot of people connect with Of Mice and Men because of its simpler format rather than novels like Jane Eyre (which we did in Y9) I also agree that the cultural influences of these novels are important and the context can help people's world view. I believe we should have a wider array of novels, not a smaller one!

  2. It's seriously wrong. Getting rid of books because they're american is the root of separating countries. If they only allow English books, all the other countries will start copying them and soon enough every country will be separated and the next generation won't even know about the other countries! We need to keep the american books. For real!

  3. That's just racist, isn't it? Yes, there's plenty of good English authors from ye olde days such as Shakespeare but there's many great authors from all over the world and from many different time periods. In English at school, we had a large focus on Scottish literature, being a Scottish school (Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 'Sunset Song' sort of grew on me after a while) but we were allowed to read many novels by American, Irish and European authors too. It broke up the monotony of Scottish writing and that was good. Educational officials should be encouraging understanding of different cultures rather than ignoring them.
    Blue. :-)

  4. Similar thing happened back in Ireland ( here ) where Rory Quinn ( minister of education, head ) yet another useless T.D. ( politician ) said that French wasn't needed in national school and abolished it and even though the teacher who was teaching us french wasn't paid for it. I don't get it they don't even think about the decisions they make because they don't affect them. Emma :)

  5. In Ireland the teacher of each class gets to pick what novel to study. I think that's better because its not a set book to study and it makes it more interesting!:):)

  6. I have taught Mice and Men for many years. Each reading opens up a new perspective, each class has their own individual ideas. The beauty of this carefully structured novella is its accessibility for students of all levels. (Likewise: To kill a Mockingbird)



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