Across the pond, students will no longer learn about growing up in the Jim Crowe South, the witch hunts of Salem, or the impact of The Great Depression on itinerant laborers. British students will no longer be reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. These 20th Century classics are being dropped in favor of British texts. The education secretary of the United Kingdom, Michael Gove, has recommended a syllabus that favors British texts in order to prepare students for the exam boards for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) :
“Students should study a range of high-quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial whole texts in detail. These must include: at least one play by Shakespeare; at least one 19th-century novel; a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry; and fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards. All works should have been originally written in English.” The Guardian
Perhaps Americans should be grateful that those embarrassing moments in US History will be expunged from the prying eyes of young British readers. How wonderful that Gove has eliminated the need for Americans to explain how Tom Robinson’s race was the reason for his arrest and his death despite the dramatic evidence provided by his attorney. How brilliant that British students will never have the chance to connect the fraud in the trial of John Proctor to the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s. How fabulous that readers in the United Kingdom will not be forced to read how the American Dream is often unattainable when climate change associated with the Dust Bowl creates harsh economic conditions.
So, thank you, Michael Gove, for keeping America’s dirty literary secrets hidden. Now, the American 20th Century will not be tarnished by the likes of those upstarts Lee, Miller, and Steinbeck.
Yes, Michael Gove, ignorance is bliss!