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Gove's Changes - Are They Really Necessary?

23/06/2014 11:37 BST | Updated 19/08/2014 10:59 BST

Classic American Literature such as Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and John Steinbeck's novella 'Of Mice and Men' have been dropped from GCSE syllabuses, in regard to Gove's one of many undesired changes.

Despite this, Gove denies that he has banned anything by telling The Daily Telegraph "I have not banned anything. Nor has anyone else, all we are doing is asking exam boards to broaden - not narrow - the books young people study for GCSE."

However, this doesn't seem so clear. Surely removing pieces of Literature from different cultures and exchanging them for strictly British pieces is tightening the syllabus? English teachers seem slightly disheartened with the changes and feel it would be better off with room for both.

Claire Howlett, an English teacher from Cambridgeshire states 'It's important that students study literature from different cultures as it helps them to empathise with people from different cultures and understand different historical contexts. Of Mice and Men is a perfect novel to study at GCSE level as it's short and accessible - making it appropriate for the full A*-G range of students that we teach.'

Charlotte Hockin, also an English teacher, equally states, 'I believe that currently, there is an effective balance of Classic British Literature and other cultures. Cutting out that vital element will restrict the pupils and deprive them of the valuable breadth of reading they experience at the moment.'

Removing the famous novellas will restrict students' exposure to different cultures and not allow them to get a full view of the wide-world around them. Having studied Of Mice and Men myself - I was certainly captivated about learning the history of women at the time as well as The Great Depression. It was also interesting looking at why the book was written and what inspired Steinbeck to write it in the first place. I feel it gave me a wider understanding of the book and allowed me to study the book at greater depth.

GCSE students seem disappointed that future English students will not be able to study the range of different Literatures that they came across.

However, Kheira, a GCSE English student stated 'it's not surprising that Gove has made these changes.' She then went on to say 'Education is about learning what's in the world around you, so by not studying texts from other cultures- how will the future GCSE English students learn and appreciate other cultures?'

Danny, also a GCSE student, agreed and said 'I think it is a terrible shame that Steinbeck's masterpiece will be removed from the syllabus, particularly if it's only down to Michael Gove's personal preferences, since it offers everything you could possibly want from a set text. It's so thought-provoking and beautifully written.'

Alongside the prose text from a different culture, students are currently required to also learn about Shakespeare whether it is a poem or story, for me it was studying The Tempest during my examination in 2011. Therefore, it's not as if students are not presently exposed to British Literature already making the changes mindless, unjustifiable and totally unnecessary.