The status of literature: English teaching and the condition of literature teaching in schools
Goodwyn, A. (2012) The status of literature: English teaching and the condition of literature teaching in schools. English in Education, 46 (3). pp. 212-227. ISSN 0425-0494
To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-8845.2012.01121.x
Although the curriculum subject of English is continually reviewed and revised in all English speaking countries, the status of literature is rarely questioned i.e. that it is of high cultural value and all students should be taught about it. The concerns of any review, in any country, are typically about what counts as literature, especially in terms of national heritage and then how much of the curriculum should it occupy. This article reports on three inter-related pieces of research that examine the views of in-service, and pre-service, English teachers about their experiences of teaching literature and their perceptions of its ‘status’ and significance at official level and in the actual classroom; it draws attention to how England compares to some other English speaking countries and draws attention to the need to learn from the negative outcomes of political policy in England. The findings suggest that the nature of engagement with literature for teachers and their students has been distorted by official rhetorics and assessment regimes and that English teachers are deeply concerned to reverse this pattern.