Morgan Fields

A Re-evaluation of Texts Taught in High School English Classrooms: Why a Need for a Curriculum Reboot is Necessary

April 3, 2021   /  

Name: Morgan Fields
Majors: English, Education
Minor: Philosophy
Advisor: Dr. Leslie Wingard

Most Applicable in the Current Moment Award

This Independent Study is an examination of teachers’ perceptions of using multicultural literature in public high school English classes in Northeast Ohio, as well as an evaluation of texts being used in these classrooms. Although the teachers in these classrooms are working to increase the amount of racially diverse literature utilized in their courses, some of the classrooms examined in this study would benefit from what I call a ‘Diversity Reboot,’ or a re-evaluation of the canonical literature used in English courses statewide. By looking at how teachers are currently incorporating diverse texts into their classrooms, as well as applying various educational theories, I give suggestions for creating a diverse curriculum that is rooted in anti-racist pedagogy and aims to sharpen students’ literature comprehension and social literacy skills. While talk of a fully representative curriculum is frequently embraced, it is often the case that the implementation of a diverse curriculum is only surface level and does not truly engage with social justice. When teachers align their lessons with the traditional American literary “canon,” or merely dabble in racially diverse works, they are a microcosm of the larger problem that is America’s vexed history with racial tension. My proposed ‘Reboot’ aims to address these issues by ensuring that anti-racist curricula are not only established but are sustained through the entirety of the school year.

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Morgan will be online to field comments on April 16:
4-6 pm EDT (PST 1pm-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening)

38 thoughts on “A Re-evaluation of Texts Taught in High School English Classrooms: Why a Need for a Curriculum Reboot is Necessary”

  1. I love how much passion and work you put into this Morgan! Congratulations on finishing strong, and for your award! You earned it!

  2. You absolutely nailed it! Well done on a powerful, informative, and critically engaged research topic. I hope you continue to pursue this line of work. I think you can really influence change! So proud of you.

  3. Morgan! What an important and difficult topic to tackle. You made so many wonderful points and I plan to take inspiration from your IS for my own classroom next year. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Your passion for the profession and your care for the individual students within are apparent in everything you do Morgan, fantastic job! I really loved all of you ideas, and I can tell you just how relevant it is, you gave voice to a lot of what teachers and students are clamoring for… Moving past this perennialism/Freudian banking model of education, and allowing students to have the autonomy and authority over what knowledge and voices are present in their learning I think is so important. I don’t think we can decolonize our system until we are ready to give up the control over who gets to define and present what we deem to be of importance. Much love and congratulations again!!

    1. Gianmarco, you’re the best! You’ve always been such an inspiration to me as a future educator, and so your words mean more than you know. Thank you for your help and support throughout the project!

  5. So wonderful that you combined diagnosis with such specific levels of remedy, challenge, and encouragement. The curricular issue has arisen in my local school district, and I’ll be hoping to learn whether individual teachers can implement more of your smaller steps while the bigger types of changes are considered.

    1. Katharine,

      Thank you for visiting my page! I’d love to know what your school district does in the future!

  6. Your I.S. is very impressive and tackles such an important topic in education. I’m excited to see what you do after Wooster!

  7. Congratulations Morgan!! I’m proud to be from the same town as you. Super interesting topic!

    1. Dana! My love! Thank you for coming to check out my research! I’m so proud to represent HHS at Woo with you!

  8. Morgan, congratulations on a project very well done! Your presentation was very intriguing and the award well-deserved. What is one text you hope to include in your own curriculum and one text from the Canon that you will not include?

    1. Cait,
      Thank you for visiting my page! I think some of those decisions I make will be influenced by the standing curriculum—what I’ve got to work with based on where I’m hired. I’d love to include some Toni Morrison for a higher-level English class, but I’d stray away from something like the Crucible or some of Steinbeck’s works… students struggle to connect and relate to those texts in 2021.

  9. Wonderful job, Morgan! I’m curious what your process was for deciding which teachers to interview and collaborate with. Did you make a special effort to include teachers from rural, urban, and suburban areas? How did you weigh these factors in evaluating their responses?

    1. Scotty,
      Thank you for coming! Yes, I did my best to work with teachers from a variety of settings (rural/suburban/urban areas) because I knew that would impact the responses. I took their placement into great consideration when evaluating their responses because where they taught was so closely aligned with what they were teaching/what they can teach. I was fascinated by the breadth of the responses and the freedoms given by some districts but shocked by the limitations other schools placed on what teachers were able to teach students. (For example, some teachers worried they would lose their jobs if they introduced an author of color into the curriculum.) I considered these limitations when I made suggestions for how to incorporate more representative literature into the curriculum, finding ‘workaround ways’ to still expose students to diverse works while abiding by the standing expectations.

  10. Morgan, this is such a fantastic project! Such important work and such a thorough and thoughtful research design, implementation, and presentation. Would you be willing to share your IS? I’d love to read it and learn more as I continue to develop my own anti-racist teaching of both past and contemporary literature. Also (for this forum), do you have an example or two of old or new curriculum texts you examine in the project?

    1. Doctor Eager,
      Thank you so much for visiting my page! I’d love to share my work with you! I spend a lot of time analyzing “The Great Gatsby,” but give more specific examples for substitutions such as “Catcher in the Rye” with “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sánchez; and “Lord of the Flies” with “Gorilla, My Love” by Toni Cade Bambara— among others.

  11. Great job, Morgan! More applicable in the current moment than athleisure wear. Are there canonical texts that you might pair with more contemporary texts in an effort to retain classic lit’s relevance along with character identities and experiences that are more accessible to today’s readers?

    1. Absolutely! I think any of the texts I give as suggestions for substitutions could easily work as excerpts as well…and this is something I mention in my paper! Adding any amount of contemporary work, even if it’s alongside a classic piece, does the job as well! One example of this might be to pair “To Kill a Mockingbird” with “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas to speak to the power of language and the effects racism has on adolescents.

  12. I am so proud of you! This research is so important for our future students and leaders of the world! I hope that many school districts will take this information into account when teachers try to expand their curriculum. Thank you for sharing your hard work! CONGRATS!

  13. Fascinating project, and very timely. Can you give some examples of traditional texts still being taught and your proposed alternatives?

    1. Absolutely! Some of the suggestions I give in my thesis are swapping “The Great Gatsby” for “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston; “Catcher in the Rye” with “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sánchez; and “Lord of the Flies” with “Gorilla, My Love” by Toni Cade Bambara.

  14. Congratulations on this inspiring project! I love the way you worked with current teachers to develop recommendations that respond to student interests and needs, working towards social justice in a way that’s relevant and accessible. Fantastic work here!

  15. Wow, Morgan! This is such a careful & rigorous analysis.

    Thanks so much for sharing – you have given me a great deal to think about going forward!

    1. Doctor Schiltz,

      Thank you so much for visiting my page! I miss you and hope you’re well!

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