A Mixture of Old and New Literature Breeds Success in English Classrooms, According to Robin Pyrchalla

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Robin Pyrchalla, an English teacher, is issuing comment on teachers’ efforts to keep kids intrigued in class.

Robin Pyrchalla, a high school English teacher, is speaking out on a new article that explains how English teachers in Louisiana are attempting to keep their students more engaged in their classroom work. While the teachers at West Monroe High School are still covering classics such as Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and To Kill a Mockingbird as part of their curriculum, they are also starting to incorporate newer sensations like Ender’s Game and the Harry Potter series. These instructors argue that newer books still have the same power as classics, and deserve to be taught.

However, despite the changes to classroom curriculum, West Monroe High School sophomore English teacher Shea Crew explains that classics will not suddenly become unimportant. She states, “I don’t think To Kill a Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451 will ever go away. Those are the two most permanently relevant books in American culture. They hit on our history and trends that are going on in our current society. At our most basic level, I don’t think Americans change that much, so those two books will always be part of who we are.”

However, books that were published in the 1980s and later are also worth studying. West Monroe High School sophomore English teacher Ashlee Bell speaks about Harry Potter and other similar books stating, “I really think Harry Potter is this generation’s J.R. Tolkien, and I think there will always be a market for that.”

Another part of the Harry Potter appeal is that the students are able to age along with the characters in the books. When a student begins to enjoy the series at age 11 or 12, he or she is then able to grow and progress right alongside the characters in the books, since the novels end when the characters are 17. Bell explains that this gives the books “a lasting appeal.” The teachers at the school are hoping to find literature that is modern, but still features classic and timeless writing styles for their students to enjoy.

Robin Pyrchalla comments on this stating, “With so many different distractions available to middle school and high school pupils now, it is really important that educators can find a way to get and keep students’ attention. If this involves covering books that are more modern and approachable, then that’s terrific. As long as kids are reading and enjoying literature, that is the most important thing. Of course the classics still have a place in English classrooms and should not be forgotten, but classes must change as students’ interests do.”

Teachers at West Monroe High School explain that since every generation is different, it is important to incorporate newer, fresher fiction that is able to grab the attention of today’s students.

Robin Pyrchalla notes that just because books are newer, does not mean that they do not offer educational value to the reader.


Robin Pyrchalla is a native of Buffalo, New York who always had dreams of becoming an English teacher. She is currently an educator at Flushing High School, where she serves as an 11th and 12th grade English teacher. Her school is one of the most diverse educational institutions in New York City, and Robin enjoys getting to work with students from various backgrounds and upbringings.

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