Our Curriculum Speaks Volumes

Throughout high school, a student will be asked to read dozens of books and stories. It is without doubt, that one of the first things students will notice about this literature is it’s age: whether it is through the book’s physical condition or release date. This has left pupils all across the United States, myself included, wondering, why can’t we read newer books?

The answer to this question, as I found out, is very complex. Mrs. Rachael Moss, Freshmen English and Journalism teacher, described her experience of adding a book to the curriculum saying: “Sherlock Holmes keeps showing up on the SATs, so I’m giving them that college readiness. When I was adding on that content, the school did talk to me about who much it’s going to cost. I found a copy of that book that was $2, and then I covered all of the books myself in plastic. I need to make them last.” The insight given to me by Mrs. Moss displayed just how much thought has to go into making changes to the curriculum; not only must new additions be able to prepare students, but faculty must take price into consideration as well.

When adding new books to the curriculum, teachers and administrators must also take relevance into account. The literature taught in high school is supposed to evolve with the times, but that does not always mean pulling books from the curriculum, and adding new ones. Mrs. Moss explained that by saying: “Stuff is never necessarily too old. I always think to myself, ‘Why are we teaching stuff the same way that they did, even when I was a student?’ The world has changed so much.” 

High school principal, Mr. Luca Passarelli, gave his own take on this subject by saying: “ I do think people associate something new with better, and that’s not always the case. But I do think current literature certainly has a way of dealing with things that are far different than ancient literature. I think it is important to know both.” 

During my interviewing process, I also reached out to several students who shared their own take on the curriculum. When asked if they would be more eager to read books for school if they were newer, Senior Aminah Harp said: “100%. New literature is just as important as old.” Harp also divulged that her sister, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, is enrolled in a Harry Potter literature class that challenges her just as much as a class on Shakespeare would. When asked that same question, Senior Tori Shultz stated that “I think newer books would hold my attention better. Often with the older books, I have to force myself to read chapters; however, when I read books on my own I absolutely love them.” With this being said, I do not think that the curriculum needs to be completely revamped, but I do not think adding in a new book somewhere down the line would hurt. 

After speaking with numerous teachers and students, it was very clear to me that Neshannock has a very solid curriculum; but I also found that no one is against change. Every single person I interviewed proclaimed their contentment with the curriculum just the way it is, but everyone was aware that things cannot stay the same forever. The times today are rapidly changing, and with that so is every aspect of life; including what we learn. I think it will be interesting to see how things happening today will impact things like curriculum in the years to come.  

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