New ICSE syllabus to have Harry Potter, Tin Tin, Amar Chitra Katha, Graphic Novels instead of Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw.
The ICSE Board has decided to add popular books like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series for junior and middle school. These books will be included as part of the English Literature syllabus starting from the year 2017-18, according to a Times Of India report. No more will students have to hide their comic books under the desk during lectures, or snoop around to get their dose of popular literature in school.
What’s more, graphic novels like Amar Chitra Katha, Tintin, Asterix comics and Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ will be a part of the syllabus from class 3 to class 8, says a report by The Economic Times. Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes will also feature in the new syllabus, along with JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, PG Wodehouse and Charles Dickens’ classics. A string of autobiographies of Anne Frank, Malala Yusufazai, APJ Abdul Kalam are also some new additions, with Enid Blyton’s Noddy series, for the lower classes.
The Reasons and Impact
An earlier Times Of India report showed that the very first survey of learning achievement of class 10 students conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) indicated that majority of the states and Union territories are performing below the overall average score, with only 41 percent students able to correctly answer in English.
“It comes as a happy change that the ICSE Board is looking at modernisation of the international curriculum and making it child-centered. It will help us teachers, who may otherwise have never read this kind of literature, to understand the viewpoint of the child better. When we were children we read about Tom Sawyer and identified with him because we were in a similar situation, and in the same way, this step is bound to help current students identify with the subject today. Yes, they might lose out on traditional literature but the focus of the subject of English in schools is not literature appreciation, but rapid reading. One can always pick up traditional literature later on,” says another teacher of an ICSE school, Sunandita Dey.
ICSE chief executive, Gerry Arathoon, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “Earlier, we were preparing curriculum for class IX till XII. But now having our own syllabus right from pre-school will help students to prepare for ICSE examinations better. Now, students will be capable of working towards the board examinations much before.”
Relevancy – The updated ICSE syllabus is “not studying anymore”.
Another ICSE board student, Jaden Rodrigues welcomed the change: “Shakespeare is boring and confusing but Rowling is interesting. I love the Harry Potter series because it’s got adventure and journey. It won’t be studying anymore. This will help encourage children who do not read to pick up books. Next, they should add Percy Jackson.”
This change signals one of many in what is and will be thought of as literature, ‘relevancy’ to be the key word in our mind. Just as Bob Dylan’s Nobel win brought back the relevancy of the position of the poet laureate, this could help bring back the significance of a subject competing with the likes of Math, Physics and Chemistry, in an essential way, the way it should be — for the love of it.