While free choice books promote engagement and better discussion, they are a restricted option due to the English department’s focus on IB style learning.
Choice reading can stimulate more insightful evaluation during class discussion.
Sophomore Eric Prindle said that the benefits of choice reading outweigh those of assigned reading.
“I would actually like to have more choice reading,” Prindle said. “Speaking from experience, with assigned course books, students are probably not as interested and don’t pay much attention. I believe if we got to choose the books ourselves, we would enjoy them more and even be able to analyze them better.”
However, the English department is focused on IB Literature courses and assigned reading is better suited to the guidelines that the IB curriculum sets.
“We have to follow [the IB] standards and then choose wisely,” English teacher Patrick Mohan said.
Given that IB English classes focus heavily on discussion-based learning, choice books can contradict the goal of analyzing on work at a time.
“In HL II, if everyone were to read a different book, it would make the class harder to teach,” Mohan said.
Additionally, assigned reading can introduce different topics and ideas that might differ from personal interests. If choice books were an option, there would not be the benefit of exposure to material outside a specific comfort zone.
“Choice reading revolves around the story and less so the deeper messages,” senior Andrew Nicholson said.
Assigned course books also allow teachers to study and analyze works better, which can result in better discussion and guidance when reading. The option of choice books run the risk of students choosing works that vary in skill level.
“Some people are going to be reading complex novels,” Nicholson said. “While others choose to either read more straightforward novels. So the people who like to grow will continue to grow and those who don’t challenge themselves will stay where they were.”
In regards to testing, assigned reading can be beneficial because it sets the class to prepare for exam questions accordingly.
“In standardized systems such as IB, it is important to have all students on the same page so that everyone can be best prepared for their IB exams,” Nicholson said.
However, choice reading can produce an engaged classroom, because students will be motivated to discuss topics that they are passionate about.
English teacher Matthew Horne said that choice reading can still be taught effectively, and can be built around teacher-student discussions.
“Choice reading centers around one-on-one seminars between a student and a teacher” English teacher Matthew Horne said.
A better understanding of a book, whether it be assigned or free choice, can stimulate better class discussion.