A response to English curriculum changes

Andrey Arcidiacono

Dear Naomi,

Education must center on ideas.

The classics have one important credential that these new diverse books don’t.

The classics have changed the way people think. That means by extension they have changed the things people do. These classic texts, The Allegory of the Cave, The Odyssey, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein have all had monumental influences on our intellectual heritage. They have shaped the beliefs of our western society and are the sources of many of our contemporary ideas.

Within these texts are the questions we ask ourselves every day and the answers that we often take for granted. Some ideas from the works I’ve mentioned: What makes life worth living? Is there an ideal form? How should we treat others? Is government best which governs least? Are people inherently evil? 

This process of reading for ideas helps us better understand our own personal beliefs as well as the beliefs of others with whom we might disagree. 

One school year only allows for students to go through 5 or 6 books at most. Diversity for Diversity’s sake is not a good enough reason to replace culturally important, high-quality books with newer popular books with a contemporary author. If it ain’t broke…

While diversity is not a bad thing, diversity for diversity’s sake is. We have to recognize where our educational priorities lie. And through those priorities, education must center on ideas because ideas produce action.

So you see, reading for ideas is the first step in preparation in writing for ideas. By reading for ideas, we not only better establish our beliefs, but we also gain a unique ability to incite action with our ideas.

So how about instead of Trevor Noah we read Fredrick Douglass, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr; all culturally important, all stimulate good writing, and most importantly of all, they have all changed the way people think.


Andrey Arcidiacono