LACONIA — The High School Humanities Department has created a list of 32 must read books, which is known as the "Laconia Canon". The list was compiled to outline a high standard of reading comprehension, and is focused on meeting so-called Common Core standards.
"The Laconia Canon has been implemented to ensure that students do not leave the high school without a basic knowledge of the most crucial works written over the past century," said Tate Aldrich, English Teacher. "It does the students a great disservice in both college and life, if they do not have a background of these works."
The Canon is a collection of high-level literary works. The study of each book is designed to encourage students to think critically about abstract ideas and connect concepts to outside sources. Some of the works highlighted include "The Odyssey", "Macbeth", "The Call of the Wild", "Animal Farm", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "The Pear", "Fahrenheit 451", "A Raisin in the Sun", "A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time", "The Scarlet Letter", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin", "The Great Gatsby", "Death of a Salesman", "1984", "Frankenstein", "Lord of the Flies", "To Kill a Mocking Bird", "Hamlet" and "Of Mice and Men". These and other books are required to be read in Social Studies, Citizenship, and U.S History.
Through the broad collection of novels, students are pushed to make connections with complex concepts such as morality, dichotomies, census, omnipotence and microcosms, as the reader is pushed to a new level of comprehension and knowledge. Digging deeper into the content of each novel, students are exposed to new forms of analyzing literary content, through thesis papers, literary circles, and frequent classroom discussion.
By approaching the works listed on the Canon in different ways, the students are able to extract a better understanding of important concepts, and have a more evolved way of looking at the world as a whole, said Aldrich.
The Common Core standards have been voluntarily implemented in most states, as they are aimed to ensure students leave high school proficient in reading and writing, explained Aldrich. Working as a continuous curriculum, students will be required to read various styles of works during their high school career, and become proficient in various styles of writing. In the English Department all students are required to write narrative essays throughout the year. The grading of each essay according to Common Core standards is used as a way to gauge where the students are in meeting the required benchmarks. The goal of this system is to ensure that through continuous practice of writing a specific type of style, the students will become proficient in the basic standards.
"In addition to promoting high academia, the collection of literary works is focused on meeting the new Common Core standards," said Rick Crockford, head of the Humanities Department. "The works ensure that during the course of their high school career, students will have both a high standard of reading comprehension and critical thinking before they graduate."