Do not force children to read «classics» at school


Sometimes I remember with a shudder how I forced my eldest son to read classical works in high school. They fought in earnest. And it wasn’t me who won that battle … He graduated from school, without even revealing, in my opinion, either “A Hero of Our Time”, or “War and Peace”, or “Crime and Punishment” … How he wrote essays, how he managed to get a «4» in the certificate — one can only guess …

And from the age of 25, when he served under a contract in the army, he became addicted to reading. «Anna Karenina», «War and Peace» were read among the first. I call my son to find out how he is doing, but he doesn’t tell me about business, not about the service, but shares his impressions of what he read …

Then came the turn of Dostoevsky: «Demons», «The Brothers Karamazov», unread in schoolchildren «Crime and Punishment». And again — talking about what was read after midnight.

Then there was the «White Guard», «Walking through the torment». And «Quiet Flows the Don» became a reference book for his son.

There is nothing surprising in this. It’s just that a person has grown up, matured to serious works. I got a life, emotional experience, and already on this basis, classical literature, as it is now fashionable to say, “went down”. At the age of 15, this experience is not yet available. And brilliant works seem tedious, boring, do not evoke any response. Therefore, teenagers are read — at best! — indifferent. Or with disgust, which is already much worse — because in the future there will be no desire to take up these books again.

A similar story happened to me. I was a responsible girl, and while studying at school, I read all the books indicated in the program from cover to cover. And then in the lessons we “did an analysis”, tediously chewed one thing and another because: what the author wanted to express by this, what he meant, and how he revealed the image of this or that hero.

And then they wrote essays. Moreover, when preparing for an essay, we wrote down entire paragraphs of templates at a time from dictation, so that later we would definitely include them in our work. So that our opuses are, so to speak, ideologically verified, and that there is not even close to any confusion and vacillation in the minds of schoolchildren.

After school, I never re-read any of the «studied» classics. I don’t want to, I can’t, it’s nauseating … But I read with great pleasure those classic stories, novels and stories that “didn’t pass” at school. I don’t know why it happened. Perhaps because at that time I was still stupid for these serious works, and premature acquaintance with them caused a strong rejection. Or maybe just unlucky with the teacher …

When the youngest son was in school, I no longer captivated him; the time will come, he will read everything that is supposed to. To understand and accept a serious work, you need to have some experience. And if you force someone to read an incomprehensible book, you will achieve one thing — disgust, rejection …

When literature is used to “analyze” a classic work… Photo from Yandex.Images When literature is “analyzed” to a classical work… Photo from Yandex.Images

And my policy is already bearing fruit. Before «War and Peace» my 19-year-old student has not yet matured. But Bulgakov «went» with a bang: «Notes of a zemstvo doctor», «White Guard». Now he is reading Two Captains by Kaverin. Although, no, he doesn’t read — he listens to an audiobook in headphones. But even so!

My mother, a literature teacher with 45 years of experience, says that this is the misfortune of school literature: program works are clearly given to children “for growth”, and therefore they are not interesting, they are not perceived. If back in the 80s of the last century, teenagers somehow “digested” these “adult books”, now they don’t … Children began to grow up much later.

Take, for example, Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter. It is studied in the 8th grade, when schoolchildren are 14 years old. And the narration is conducted on behalf of the protagonist, starting from his 17 years. So they would introduce a story into the program in grades 10-11. And it would be perceived in a completely different way … After all, there is already the experience of the first love, and other experiences … And the majority of today’s 14-year-olds do not yet have love on their minds and, moreover, not questions of loyalty to the oath. They have other problems: there is not enough memory in the smartphone, few people “liked” the photo in VK, but what kind of video would be more fun to upload on TikTok …

I am not saying that literature should not be studied at all. It is necessary, of course! But only the works should correspond to the age of the children and the level of their development.

So, in my opinion and parental experience, in order to instill in children a love for classical Russian literature, you need to do one thing — do not force them to read these works ahead of time. When the time comes, read it for yourself.

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