Solving the issue of uninterested students

More stories from Sydney Allison-Smith


Sydney Allison-Smith

A stack of books that the sophomore honors class reads each year.

A recurring issue in English classes throughout the years has been students’ disinterest in the books in the curriculum. 

Reading classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, and The Scarlet Letter in high school is standard, however many still have an issue with it.

To really dig into this problem, English teachers such as Jessica Cunningham and Kristen Misbrener discuss their feelings

“I like to add new things whenever I can,” English teacher Jessica Cunningham said.

Misbrener also encourages adjustments to be made as time goes on so the books read in classrooms can inspire real-world connections.

“I do enjoy teaching the books in the curriculum every year, but I like to switch it up when I feel like students are getting tired of the material or the current events going on-demand another book choice,” Misbrener said. “I do like the idea of mixing classics with more modern pieces that students enjoy because you want to make sure it is accessible to everybody.”

While it is true the majority of books read in high school are classics, that does not make them outdated. The importance of reading these books may be lost on some high school students.

“Reading books from a wide literary canon is important because it is the best example of excellent writing we have so far,” Misbrener said.

Without reading and discussing classics in school, many young people would not be exposed to them at all. 

“They are classics for a reason. They set a lot of precedence for current things so we can draw parallels between what was happening then and what is happening now,” Cunningham said. 

Anyone who has studied English knows how classics can open discussions about the time period, history, and ethics as well.

Some students have also expressed a bit of concern with the content of the books read in school.

“We go through a lot of heavy content, especially in English 10. I think it kind of bogs them down sometimes but we still have good discussions regardless of that and they are valuable books at the end of the day,” Cunningham said.

While it is understandable for a teenager to not want to read about such intense topics at 8:20 a.m. on a Tuesday, the discussions afterward are what grow the minds of students. 

Newer projects like SSR (silent sustained reading) let students pick their own books to read. This allows students to read a book that truly interests them.

 Despite this effort by the English department, every student can not be happy and there will always be some who do not want to read any books at all.

Balancing the opinions of the students with the requirements of the state definitely seems arduous for English teachers. There is always a solution found by the department that gets students involved even if what is being read is not their favorite book.