Most Britons have lied about the books they read; maybe…but wasn’t Orwell’s ‘1984’ a staple diet in schools?

Question by Harry R: Most Britons have lied about the books they read; maybe…but wasn’t Orwell’s ‘1984’ a staple diet in schools?
Remember writing various essays about ‘Airstrip One’, ‘Oceania’, ‘Unpersons’ and ‘Winston & Julia’ – and after leaving school, reading it often.
Realise there are some books in the ‘top ten’ that would be hard work for anyone who wasn’t in either Oxbridge, or the top red-bricked universities…’War and Peace’ and ‘Ulysses’ to me was like climbing Everest backwards in a bearsuit – hence me only reading between ten and thirty pages of either – and that was in the days when I still had all my braincells (between 17 and 20).
Orwell’s ‘1984’ was top of the fib-list, which surprised me…does this mean the book is no longer used in schools – for during the time I was in my last year at school, Orwell was seen as ‘fairly easy’.

Best answer:

Answer by 12345678
yep i did 1984 at school. back in good ‘ole 1995. Yessiree times change.

Answer by executioner_bolan
At one time it was on the curriculum for many schools but not recently.I also remember reading it at school but never since.I never lie about books I`ve read ,except to say I haven`t read a book sometimes (but this is often out of embarassment LOL).I read so many different genres of book but never claim to have read something if I haven`t.

Answer by Heather J
I did ‘O’ Level English and ‘A’ Level English Literature.

I’m pretty hazy on what we read but the ones I remember are: Measure for Measure, Romeo and Juliet, A Winters Tale, I’m the King of the Castle (Susan Cooper) Animal Farm and Wilfred Owen. There was also The Rainbow and Lord of the Flies.

There must have been others but 1986 was a long time ago!

Of these the only ones I have read again are Orwell and Golding.

Classics have gone out of the window now. I prefer Pratchett 😉

I know my 15 year old neice is reading a book called Journey’s End as part of her GSCE’s but I’m not familiar with it.

Answer by Lee H
Certain books have been on school curriculum or reading lists for years, but there has never, not that I am aware of, a list of required reading for ALL schools at specific ages. It is up to the individual school and teachers to set the texts they want to teach, even more so within the wide and varied state/public systems of education we have had over the last 50 odd years. There is usually a requirement for some Shakespeare, but outside of “some”, whether that be a play or sonnet or whatever there is no further requirement. That said, though, I suspect this is usually a “governor” requirement rather than a legal requirement.

So, as for 1984, absolutely not… Animal Farm would be higher up the list, imho anyway, as an Orwell book as it is both far more accessible to the age range and also has the cross-subject focus, what with the allegory and all.

The flexibility is there to enable the school to have some decision in the curriculum, for example: down here in the south/south west we read a fair bit of Thomas Hardy… which we could then incorporate into the landscape around us, school trips etc.

I would also have to say, and not sure it is still the case, as we were often one of the pilots for the GCSE when it started… but after 14/15 or so, we were basically reading our own books and having to relate them to the central themes. There were some texts we read as the class, but more often than not, these were short stories or poems to lead us onto our own reading.

This is not to say that 1984 is no longer used in schools, more that I dont think it was ever used in all schools and may still be used in others. There are much better books for whatever purpose, imho.

Floppity: if it wasnt for Labour governments, there wouldnt be ANY books in schools, and probably no schools to put them in anyway.

Answer by Steve J
hi Harry.
Just because a book was in school, doesn’t mean the kids read it!
It is a grim book as harsh as life in Airstrip 1, lots of people give up on it very quickly.
“Ulysses” i absolutely hate, when i finished it i took it outside and threw it away, swearing never to touch it again.
“War and Peace” however, when i came to reread it, is wonderful! Give it another go, it doesn’t need Oxbridge or any such thing. Same turned out to be true of “Vanity Fair”, “Middlemarch” etc. I just wasn’t mature enough to appreciate them fully at the time.
cheers, Steve.

Answer by floppity
It isn’t in schools anymore – this is a labour government, we won’t be having books like 1984!

I always thought I was pretty good with my book list, but I started 1984 a few years ago and just didn’t get past the first few chapters. I think I’ll try it again soon. And I’ve never heard of the first four you mention, and War and Peace and Ulysses I haven’t even attempted!

For my GCSEs (only four or five years ago) we studied ‘The Inspector Calls’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ and extracts of ‘Great Expectations’ but we didn’t actually read the whole book – and this was a grammar school – talk about dumbing down of education!

What do you think? Answer below!

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