The British GCSE exam board has dropped U.S. literary classics such as John Steinbeck and Harper Lee from its English Literature syllabus in a move to push for a more British-centric curriculum.
According to the new document issued by the exam board, “students should study a range of high quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial whole texts in detail. These must include:
At least one play by Shakespeare
At least one 19th century novel 2
A selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry, fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.
The change has prompted criticism from writers and readers online, leading many people to believe that the books were banned. British education secretary Michael Gove has defended the move, claiming that the books are not banned.
“Teachers are as free to introduce children to the brilliant writing of Lee, Steinbeck and Miller today as they were yesterday and nothing this government is doing will change that in the future,” he told The Guardian.
Although the U.S. owes much to the United Kingdom in terms of literature, past and present, I believe removing timeless books such as these from their curriculum will diminish the overall effectiveness of fine literature for this generation of British students.