High School English Textbooks: a Critical Examination

High School English Textbooks: a Critical Examination

High School English Textbooks: a Critical Examination

High School English Textbooks: a Critical Examination

Excerpt

Teachers of high school English do not need to be convinced of the importance of anthologies of literature and composition textbooks. Whatever innovations have come into our classrooms in recent years--one thinks immediately of team-teaching, programed instruction, advanced placement classes, paperback books and a host of audio-visual aids--it remains a fact for the present and for the foreseeable future that such textbooks must continue to be the foundations upon which most high school programs in English will be built. Certainly textbook publishers still seem to be operating on this premise. Each school year, the mail of an English teacher (and more especially that of a chairman of an English department) is filled with decorative brochures announcing the newest and obviously the best editions of anthologies and composition series, all of them almost guaranteeing to achieve what their predecessors--once new and best--somehow failed to accomplish: the enjoyment of literature, and the mastery of writing skills. These textbooks pour forth in such cornucopic abundance that anyone charged, as I have sometimes been, with reviewing them for possible adoption, might do well to recall the plaint in Ecclesiastes: "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (xii:12) . . .

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