Assignment 2: Discussion, GCSE Coursework Example

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GCSE Coursework

If the goal of children’s literature is overtly or inadvertently to guide or instruct, must that lead to subjection?

Although the goal of children’s literature is ultimately to guide or instruct, it should be done so it a way that allows the child to form his or her own ideas about what is being read. As a consequence, the instruction will result in critical thinking about the story, rather than simply being able to recite the words printed and the ability to give a brief summary about the literature. According to “Purpose of Children’s Literature” the main difference between adult literature and children’s literature is that it is required to be engaging so that children are able to develop an interest in learning the material (Purpose of Children’s Literature 1). Benefits of children’s literature that are cited in the article include learning new vocabulary, learning essential logic skills, and providing a necessary background for learning in the future. Since the goal of children’s literature has shifted from pure educational purposes to add entertainment value, children will benefit, as this will encourage them to read more on their own. This is the opposite of subjective; it will allow children to adopt a unique reading preference compared to their classmates and allow them to develop opinions of literature that will carry with them throughout their lives.

Can a text simultaneously subvert? Why or why not?

Although the primary goal of many children’s stories aim to teach them a moral lesson, many aspects that go into understanding the literature itself encourage children to develop their own opinion about the tales, and therefore about morality in general. “Developing Aesthetics – History of Children’s Literature” discusses Aesop’s Fables as an example of this phenomenon. During the time period in which these tales were written, children were considered miniature adults who had to work rather than enjoy the frivolities of childhood. As a consequence, the tales were written for both children and adults, although they are continued to be enjoyed by children today. The morals included at the end of each tale allow the reader to truly question the meaning of the story and the interpretation of the meaning itself (Developing Aesthetics – History of Children’s Literature 3). Aesop’s morals sometimes taught ironic and true to life lessons, rather than the optimistic ones we see in modern literature. As a consequence, it has been demonstrated that text can simultaneously subvert.

Does this appear to vary based on the historical time period being studied? Be sure to state your conclusion as a position with texts as evidence.

As mentioned above, subversion of text depends on the specific time period in which the text was written. In more modern times, authors have tried to completely censor children’s literature by providing only a story as means or entertainment or by only using the story to demonstrate a moral lesson. A major difference between the literature that attempts to establish morality in Aesop’s Fables compared to other literature is that they attempt to provide children with a more optimistic view of morality or take advantage the of literature to infuse religious morals. In “Developing Aesthetics – History of Children’s Literature”, the Puritans were reported to believe that “literature is frivolous” and to teach their children lesson based on the terms of the bible (Developing Aesthetics – History of Children’s Literature 1). Although the Puritans eventually developed other modes of literature such as hornbooks, battledores, and chapbooks, the basis of the morals of each lesson or tale were based purely upon the Christian religion, even though the chapbooks were meant to be somewhat entertaining in addition to educational (Stahl 12).

Given children’s literature is often described as a lesser, minor or marginalized field of literature, how does didacticism and subversion contribute to this devaluation or work against it?

Since children’s literature in considered inferior, many literary experts consider their time better spent writing literature for adults. Furthermore, this enables children develop their own sense of its unimportance, and this may cause many children to eventually lose interest in reading. The availability of children’s books available are numerous, however they are typically written without much effort and contain simplistic stories. As long as adults continue to have this attitude about children’s literature, we are preventing the children of our world from being able to truly learn at their necessary level.

According to “Aesthetics as a Means of Censorship”, the criteria that is used to rank children’s literature is based on the morals or lessons taught in the story, how attractive the graphics are, whether there is an adequate level of vocabulary, familiar content, and emphasis of family values (Aesthetics as a Means of Censorship 2). Although these are the types of books that are considered successful by publishers and are therefore the status quo, they contribute to the fact that modern children’s literature is monotonous. As a consequence, it would be useful for authors to recognize this and break free from these unnecessary standards that the world of children’s literature has put in place.

Works Cited

Stahl, J D, Tina L. Hanlon, and Elizabeth L. Keyser. Crosscurrents of Children’s Literature: An Anthology of Texts and Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

Unit 1: Week 1 – Purpose of Children’s Literature Readings.

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