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Why Edgar Allan Poe is Important to Teach in Schools

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Spare Poe his work from the Common Core Monstrosity

My mother was up and spent yesterday being fairly ill due to a blocked tube in her ear that made her dizzy. We spent a lot of time talking and she lamented an experience from when she was a teaching assistant, a position she just retired from last year. The new-ish principal, who I had only known as the parent of a girl a few years younger than me who fancied herself a genius, had suggested that the works of Edgar Allan Poe had no educational value. My mother, a Poe fan since she was in middle school, was taken aback, but, valuing her career and not wishing to argue, kept quiet.

“Poe time” was something to look forward to for me from 7th to 12th grade. For those years, every Halloween season, me and my classmates were regaled with tales of murder, disease, torture, and love beyond death. Not exactly standard school material, which made us excited. We were learning, but we were being creeped out while we were learning. It was a lot of fun! Of course there were essays, response questions, and analysis, same with anything else, but we were learning about all kinds of disturbing things. Stuff the grown ups wanted to shelter us from.

That’s probably why the principal wanted to stop the fun.

I am strongly against censoring things, particularly good literature. Honestly, I was just as horrified by The Giver as any of Poe’s work. Classes are required to read Night which is true horror incarnate, as it details the experience of a Holocaust survivor. One of my favorite books as a child, Lord of the Flies is disturbing and terrifying, and some of my classmates openly admitted to not wanting to read it because of this. So what makes Poe different? Is it because he sets out to horrify the reader? Is it his focus on death rather than life?

Frankly, I believe Poe is important to teach students. A master of the short story, his work has no doubt inspired many great authors, including H.P. Lovecraft, (Which should ALSO be taught in schools but at the college level). Poe’s work can be helpful for short story writing projects, and his language use can enhance reading comprehension. In short, Poe was a genius. To not present the work of a genius to a class is to weaken the learning experience of that class.

Some spooky ideas for the classroom can be found on this blog’s Sister Blog, Rainbowneontiki:


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