Clay Burrell tagged me on his blog, Beyond School. The thing was apparently started by Paul C. at quoteflections. According to the established protocols for such things, here are the rules
- Select and briefly review one teen novel, classic or modern, which is a sure antidote to the daze of high school.
- Title your post Meme: High School Daze to Praise.
- Include an image with your post.
- Tag four blogger colleagues.
I’ve reviewed some of the other contributions to the meme to get a better feel for where this is going. My problem with it lies in the phrase “teen novel.” What the heck is a teen novel?? Most of the contributions I’ve seen involve a teen as protagonist, and they’ve all been interesting – kinda. Some of them I’ve read myself. Some of them, I think I’d like to read, and frankly, a couple of them, no. Thanks, but no.
The primary qualification is “a sure antidote to the daze of high school.” I need to be able to assign it to a high school kid. Clay’s suggestion of Lolita has garnered a lot of attention for a lot of good reasons. I’ve seen Ender’s Game in the list, and I’ve seen a lot of titles that — um — not so much.
One of my problems with this is that it’s been 38 years since I graduated from high school and while I remember the books I read on my own, I don’t remember the ones I was assigned. Seems to me there was Ivanhoe, and Moby Dick. Yawn. What I remember was a long string of Dostoevsky, Heinlein, LeGuin, and what seemed like a doorstop by Frank Herbert entitled Dune.
Dune is the story of Paul Atriedes who is thrown into the bubbling stew of court politics, war, and culture. The book is filled with vivid imagery, unforgettable (often repulsive) characters, and scenes of often violent action set against a sweeping religious and philosophical backdrop. This is a seminal work in modern science fiction and I think every bit as important as the work of Verne and Wells in the genre.
I probably should add a disclaimer. I’m a science fiction fan, author, and general geek. I can read other kinds of stories – but sci-fi is my home. It’s the genre that few “literary” people respect and this is often doubly true in education. In spite of that, sci-fi (or speculative fiction, to use the current politically correct term) gives us an opportunity to examine issues that are too close to us — too personal — to be seen. By placing the behavior or characteristic in an alien context of outer space or far future, we can gain perspective on ideas which might otherwise be unapproachable. (No, Frank Gorshin’s performance in Star Trek is not a good example.)
Along those lines, please note that this book is one of the few from my personal collection that has survived the many moves, transfers, and prunings of my collection. This volume has been with me since I purchased it in a small shop on Congress Street in Portland, Maine, in the summer of 1966 — my own high school years. The cover above is a scan of my own copy and notice the price. This particular suggestion is offered up from personal experience and perhaps without consideration of the universe of possibly better alternatives.
All I can say is, “It worked for me.”
Tag! You’re it!
I know this meme comes out of education, but I’m going to tag some people who have a different take on literature:
Update (4/19): I wanted to be clear that I’m not including these people in order to promote them or their works. I want to open the discussion up and introduce the idea that teachers need to stop talking to teachers all the time. Not that it’s a bad thing, but when you’re looking for authentic educational resources, don’t talk to teachers. Talk to the people who are engaged in that particular field. You want authentic experience with language and literature? Talk to an author. You want to know what a plant biologist does? Talk to a tree surgeon. You want math? Talk to a physicist. Or an astronomer.
There’s an old chestnut that goes something like, “The teacher opens the door, but the student must go through alone.” The Web 2.0 corollary for education is, “The web opens the door, but the teacher must go through it to learn.”
Thanks to Mur, Tee, Pip and
the author-to-be-named Christianna for playing along.