The Effective Banning of American Novels from GCSE English Literature

The duplicity of language: of course what I mean here by effective isn’t that Gove’s decision was well done – though from his Machiavellian point of view, it was brilliantly done – but that this was/is the inevitable outcome.

Being duplicitous was one of his major contributions to his role as Education Secretary. In the details below this introduction that I also sent to Nicky Morgan, I outline how utterly deceitful Gove was in his defence of his decision. How did we let him get away with it? I will be writing more on this later.

And lest it look like sour grapes or a fruitless nostalgic delve: I think the fight to reverse this decision should still take place, but more importantly I am sharing as a warning that we all need to be more proactive about these political shenanigans. But more of this in a later posting. Here is the ‘scenario’ I outlined:

The Effective Banning of Texts

Technically, an Exam Board could set extra/other texts for a GCSE English Literature exam from 2015, including those by American authors, as the Order represents the minimum content. So Gove is ‘correct’ in this assertion. But there are two insuperable reality checks to be considered in this scenario:

1. No Exam Board and no school would set/undertake any extra English Literature study at GCSE/KS4 because there isn’t time in that packed curriculum – English and all other subjects – and this is the obvious, common-sense, pragmatic answer to that mischievously stated possibility from Gove, and thus effectively he has excluded American authors from the English Literature GCSE curriculum.

2. If anyone were to pursue his technically correct if wholly improbable scenario, the other damning question must be, from which part of the prescribed minimum areas/authors for study would any extra examined texts be able to gain their marks?

If, as Gove is arguing, you allow for other study, the marks for that as a percentage to be awarded in a GCSE examination has to come from somewhere else. So does it come from Shakespeare? Does it come from Poetry [and the Romantic poets, for example]? Does it come from the study of British authors?

Gove has promoted three authors/areas [and others] as his essential core for GCSE English Literature, so how could he in reality agree to their study, in effect, being diminished by further/other study? Any other texts in this scenario would necessarily have to take a percentage of the rewarding marks from the very CORE he so ideologically – and demonstrably through legislation – demanded.

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