Young Partho finds a schoolbag outside his room. “A gift?”; it’s not even his birthday! Hands trembling, he opens the bag. Books fall off from it, books he has never read. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… hmm… sounds interesting…” and off he goes on a reading spree. Turns out that he’s been enrolled to a new school. “My young wizard, these are your textbooks! Do you like them?”, his mother fondly asks. “It’s the best school there ever will be!”
For those who are wondering, the ICSE board, known for its unique syllabus and curriculum brings the School of Fantasy to the 2000’s kids, what the 90s kids ever dreamt of. The new English syllabus for the coming year will consist of Fantasy series like J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”, Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, Herge’s “Tintin” and stories featuring the sleuths- Poirot, Holmes and Feluda as well as autobiographies of Malala, Dr. Kalam, in place of the classic Shakespearean literature that used to be taught.
The pre-primary children will be introduced to Noddy, Tessy bear and the like, while those in 3rd standard will get to attend Hogwarts!
The previous generation studied the old English; refined and graceful, yet realistically speaking, backdated. Knowledge of old English is hardly ever required by the students in their higher studies apart from helping getting siestas by those deep melancholic monologues. The modern world needs the students to be well versed in modern English and the new curriculum certainly gives a new dimension to studies. The need to provide students with more relatable and enjoyable texts so that students enjoy rather than labour through them is certainly one motive behind this change.
Gone are the days when children used to hide their favourite fantasy novels inside their textbooks. Now, they will get to read them in their classes, good enough to make all the grown-ups envious and wish they were children again. However, through this change, the children will be introduced to such popular stories and well-received novels by critically acclaimed authors.
However, allowing globally popular canon to replace globally popular “classic” can make all renaissance literature obsolete in the eyes of the next generation. This complete revamp will never introduce the Shakespearean English standard and its metamorphosis to the present form and the students pursuing higher studies in English will certainly miss the early taste of reading these vintage literatures. Many would think of this as a degradation in learning standards in terms of quality and grammar, since many modern novels use more informal and grammatically improper words.
So, the question arises: will the joy of reading be crushed under the need to ace grades? Will the love and power of the story be compromised in the process of analysis and formulating literary theories? Because how is it any different than forcibly learning the beauty of the language for the very sake of it? Or weep in love for fantasy worlds because you’re too busy trying to jot down characteristic traits?
Despite all these questions stimulating the need of post-modern literature over classics, if there was a balance between the gems of literary history and current literature expressions, then the children will be offered a wider scope for understanding humanity and its very nuances.