How far should schools go to make classes interesting?
Our discussion yesterday about how to engage students and whether school is supposed to be fun made me think of this article that I read in the Style section of Sunday's New York Times. It's about the craze over the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books, and it starts by describing a 10-year-old boy who generally hates to read but was so hooked on his Wimpy Kid book he wanted to bring it in to a restaurant.
The hero of the books is by no means a role model. "Some parents object to the way the books celebrate a disrespectful, mean-spirited kid," the article says. "Others deplore its cartoons as pandering to young readers, a dilution of text and language."
But if the books engage disengaged kids, is it worth it? And should kids be reading such books in school, or only in their free time?
A few years ago, I wrote a series of controversial articles about the Studio Course curriculum that Baltimore middle schools were using at the time. The curriculum, which was thrown out after my stories were published, focused heavily on cultivating kids' interest in reading, even if some materials were questionable. Perhaps the juiciest detail was that kids were allowed to read CosmoGIRL magazine in class, with features on such topics as how to make out.
Where to draw the line?