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When did 1984 become modern?

Lit Up
I’ve been reading the book “Lit Up”. A reporter spent a year sitting in three different grade 10 classes to see how English was taught. There is a section where he writes about the lack of female authors on the reading list. The classroom teacher talked about a number of authors that he considered and the reasons he used them or didn’t use them. One of the authors was Jane Austen – her books were not on the list because they were too old (my interpretation). However 1984 was on the list because it was “modern”. I’ve got nothing against 1984 but I do take issue with teaching it because it is “modern”.

Yes, there are great themes in it but any book published almost 70 years ago is no longer modern. For many teenagers today their parents were not even in high school when the ‘futuristic’ year 1984 rolled around.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to get rid of 1984, but please be thoughtful of the reason you choose to teach it. We do also need to ensure that while we honour the literature from the past we are exploring new authors and ensuring that the voices from modern (i.e. still writing today) authors are heard.

If you want to explore the themes from 1984, why not use a book like “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow?



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