Om eleverna själva får välja: En studie av högstadieelevers attityder till litteraturläsning
Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
This essay examines the decline of reading comprehension in Swedish schools, and also aims to provide insight into the debate concerning a literary canon and its usage in schools. While some claim that the literary canon is only a list of irrelevant white dead men which only serves to perpetuate feelings of alienation in, for example, female students, others see it as a means to bring society together using the only literature that stood the test of time. This essay will look to studies concerning reading comprehension, and questions regarding reading habits which our own students answered. It will also explain the different viewpoints of both sides of the canon debate.
There are several studies that show this decline in reading comprehension, PISA and PIRLS being the foremost of them. They point to a trend where the reading skills of boys are much worse than those of girls, a trend which still has not panned out.
Bloom and the different researchers who are the basis for Verhaest's thesis are of the opinion that canonical literature serves a purpose in that it teaches students aesthetic literary values. The researchers believe that the literary canon is a necessary counterweight for commercialism and popular fiction. Bloom believes that the canonical literature has progressed naturally and that including new books into it would only serve to dilute it. Mikaela Lundahl takes an opposing standpoint, she is of the opinion that while the canon is an important framework it is also necessary to question it and remodel it in order for it to work in a more heterogeneous society. She is joined in this belief by Anna Williams and Magnus Persson. Helen Schmidl and Maria Ulfgard are both researchers of didactic methodology, and while they do not agree on whether there is a canon in Swedish schools or not, both of them agree that it is important that teachers have the ability to choose literature based on their students' needs and wants in order for them to progress their reading skills.
Our students were not avid readers; their reading habits mirrored the results of PISA. Also, like in PISA and PIRLS, there was a noticeable difference between girls' and boys' habits. The girls to a higher degree also found the books read in school to be relevant to their interests. However, they could see the importance of reading, both new and old literature, and many of them made a connection between reading literature and good grades. The most important thing in choosing literature for them, however, would be that the book is exciting. It is also a good thing, the majority agreed, to read books written by both male and female authors, and to have a gender critical perspective when reading.
Conclusively, students appear to have a lot of opinions about what literature they read in schools, and if they do not read their reading skills will not improve. School literature today seems to cater mostly to the girls, as they are more positive towards it. Therefore it could be problematic to have a politically ordained canon imposed on teachers, removing their possibility to look to individual needs in their students, despite the loss of proper understanding of aesthetic values.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 49 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier, 2013vt00465
Survey, gender, literary canon, cultural heritage, reading cultures, desire to read
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-202491OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-202491DiVA: diva2:632065
Subject / course
Teacher Education Programme
Areskoug, Linn, Uniersitetslektor
Nørholm, Morten, Universitetslektor