ERIC Number: ED249538
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Apr-23
Changes Real and Imagined: A Historical Examination of Secondary School Literature Teaching and Texts.
Salter, Kay H.
An historical examination of literature teaching between the years 1897 and 1940 reveals four interest group positions that played a part in the development of literature teaching as it is known today: humanists, social efficiency educators, developmentalists, and social meliorists. During the early 1900s, those operating from an essentially humanist point of view complained that some English teachers were teaching literature simply as a mental exercise. The humanists favored teaching literature as a contribution to the improvement of the individual and for the passing on of the literary heritage. Partly because the years leading up to the twenties were so fraught with concern for efficiency and partly because of the resistance English teachers were exhibiting toward what they felt was college domination of the high school curriculum, the anthology soon replaced the individual classic as standard classroom fare. By the 1930s, however, many educators were beginning to doubt whether the subject-centered curriculum was serving the needs of students as had once been thought and advocated an approach that centered around strands of experience. This was followed by social meliorism which emphasized democratic values. Then as now, however, the most popular and persistent approach to teaching literature seems to have reflected some mixture of humanist and mental discipline emphases, by which an essentially undefined subject such as English could be made to appear more concrete and useful in the eyes of an ever skeptical public. (HOD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (68th, New Orleans, LA, April 23-27, 1984).