Thursday, March 12, 2009

Canadian Books "Under Attack"?

Bookforum links to This article by John Degen re: the disturbing lack of Canadian Content in our nation's public school curriculum. I had several reactions:

1) Really? A kid can graduate from Canadian public school without being exposed to CanCon? Wow. The Trudeau era really has come to an end.

2) There's no good reason for it. Canadian writers can be just as bug-ass depressing as any other regional writer -- moreso, even.

3) Um ... about that last point .... My chief complaint in my final year of high school was with the tedious and despair-inducing required reading. Poems written by kids who commit suicide, novels written by novelists who commit suicide, and plenty of other stuff that suggests suicide is the only reasonable response to our dark future. I'm looking forward to a day when The Road will be required reading. (Wups -- that last link wasn't Cormac McCarthy now, was it?)

When I told my 12th-grade English teacher that I didn't think I could bear to read one more book that made me want to reach for the razor, he quickly threw Robertson Davies into the mix. Guess what the highlight of my class turned out to be?

I'm not opposed to depressing books, but fer crying out loud: you want the kid to graduate with just a smidgen of their sense of potential intact -- don't you? So go on and pepper the curriculum with CanCon. Just do what you can to make sure at least some of it is stuff a kid might actually want to read.


Joel said...

A Canadian friend once lent me a copy of "How to be Canadian" by Will and Ian Ferguson. Have you ever read it? I was reminded of that book by reading your thoughts on Canadian literature. The authors have some similar observations

Whisky Prajer said...

I don't understand why Will Ferguson's star isn't fixed a whole lot higher than it is, although it *might* have something to do with his frank thoughts on the pantheon of "Great Canadian Writers." Actually, we could do a lot worse than throw him into the curriculum.