An Open Letter To Michael Gove About Dropping To Kill A Mockingbird From GCSEs

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Education secretary, Michael Gove, has announced American authors will be dropped from English literature GCSEs in favour of British writers.

The reaction has been one of uproar with countless people voicing concerns that the richness and diversity of the syllabus will be irrecoverably changed by the move.

One HuffPost UK reader who would be affected by the changes, 13-year-old Charli Kimmis, got in touch and wrote this blog about it...

Dear Mr. Gove,

My name is Charli and I am 13 years old. I have been blogging about politics and law for nearly a year, particularly in the Save UK Justice campaign, against your good friend Mr. Grayling. I woke up this morning to an uproar about your changes to the English Curriculum.

Personally, I am disgusted about your new curriculum changes. I can imagine that there has been no democracy to this decision. Why should To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most influential texts in the world, and Of Mice and Men, be removed from our curriculum?

In September, I will be in Year 9. That means I won't be starting my actual GCSE course, but in preparation to do so. I am an aspiring lawyer, and so both English Literature and English Language A-Levels were a possibility to me. Now, I am not so sure.

English has always been a passion to me. I have adored both reading and writing since the age of two. And now? Now, you are out to destroy that passion, of thousands. Yes, there are a lot of teenagers that don't give one about English, or their education, but some of us do.

I, as much as you, believe Shakespeare and Dickens should be studied. But I, apparently unlike you, believe other texts should be studied too.

I want to draw attention to a certain part of this article (right). " 'Of Mice and Men, which Gove really dislikes, will not be included.' ".

From the article, this is the phrase that may have shocked me the most. You "really dislike" it? I'm sorry, Sir, but you cannot just go around removing things from a curriculum just because you don't like it. If I was education minister and this was how you go about things, I'd be removing maths and science. But that isn't how it works, I'm afraid.

Another thing I'd like to pick up on is the fact that this "new and improved" curriculum only includes English authors. Not even Irish! The Government want us all to be more tolerant about other races, and then increases the fact that many children are not educated on other cultures. Personally, I grew up on books like Handa's Surprise and many others, and I love reading other books, and books from America. Are you going to change the fact that reception children read Handa's Surprise and do work on it? I can imagine it now.

As a Government, in this one decision, you are turning around all the things you want. You want us to be more tolerant as a society, and what was that other thing? Oh yes... Better results in English. I don't think boring us to absolute tears is the way to do this.

The Colour Purple, which wasn't on the curriculum but deserves a mention, is one of my favourites. I have previously attempted To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. I didn't understand them then, but I guarantee over my summer holiday this year they will be on my (extremely tall) reading pile, studied and written about in depth by me. Why? Because I want to learn. I want to learn about what these books have to give. About our society.

Today, #tokillamockingbird, #Gove and Of Mice and Men are all trending topics. #Govekillsmockingbird is also high up. People do care. This will not go unnoticed, Sir.

I could go on for hours, also talking about your changes in general GCSE's and summer holidays, but I won't, right now.

I don't suppose you will ever read this, but if you do, thank you very much.

Charli, age 13,
Justice campaigner who is very concerned for her education and future,
Lover of English

Charli is on Twitter at @LilGirlBigMouth

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