Michael Gove Bans Classic Literature By American Writers From English GCSE Syllabus

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Michael Gove

Michael Gove has brandished his red pen and banned American classics such as the Pullitzer-prize winning To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. These classics of English literature are no longer to be studied at GCSE after the Conservative Education Secretary insisted teenagers should study literature penned by British writers, not American writers.

Three-quarters of the books on the government-directed GCSEs, which will be unveiled this week, are by British authors and most are pre-20th century, the Sunday Times reports

"Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90 of the books are from the English canon."

The move has been strongly criticised by teachers and academics, who have likened Mr Gove's reading list to 'something out of the 1940s'.

The hashtags #getgovereading and#tokillamockingbird have been trending on Twitter all day with people enraged that Michael Gove's personal (and narrow minded) preferences will influence a whole generation of children's reading habits.

One lead Tweet points out the advice from the To Kill a Mockingbird's character Atticus Finch: "Atticus said it was the polite thing to talk about what people were interested in, not what you were interested in."

The exam boards had to follow strict guidelines from the Department for Education when drawing up the new literature GCSE. Teenagers will no longer be able to undertake coursework and will be graded by exams at the end of two years of studying set texts.

From 2015, teenagers taking the OCR English literature exam will have to study a pre-20th-century novel by a British author such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, poetry by the Romantics, and a Shakespeare play. The new GCSE syllabus drawn up by Edexcel, another exam board, is believed to be similar.

Pupils will still be able to study one or two modern works, but these too are by British writers. Willy Russell's play Educating Rita is understood to be on one exam board's syllabus. It's British but is it a classic?

What do you think? Should our children only study books, poems and plays by English writers or does classic literature transcend geographical borders?

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