Monthly Archives: December 2015

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Reading The Game of Thrones in Class: Should It Be Allowed

song of ice and fire coversWe’ve had a bit of controversy come up in the past month, as students have been selecting their winter term projects to complete. As you know, the Montessori philosophy is to allow our students to be strong forces in the shaping of their own educational path, with the core belief that when a student chooses to learn, the knowledge he gains will be more powerful and last him his entire life, whereas the student who is forced to learn merely crams for the next exam.

This is a sound philosophy, in principle, but in practice brings up details that can be difficult to maintain.

For their winter projects, 10th grade English students were asked to choose works with medieval themes. Historically, this has led from as varied choices as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Quite the varied list of styles indeed.

This year, however, we had several students submit proposals of a different nature: for A Game of Thrones, the popular series by George RR Martiin.

What Is A Game of Thrones?

A Game of Thrones is the title of the first novel in George RR Martin’s medieval fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The books take place in the fictional island kingdom of Westeross, which certainly has allusions to the British medieval kingdom.

The books have enjoyed immense popularity since their inception, and two more are still pending publishing, for a total of 7 works. The novels have been popularized even further by the HBO series of the same name.

You can find the Game of Thrones books from www.georgerrmartin.com or download A Dance with Dragons audiobook, the latest work in the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobook series, from http://agameofthronesaudiobook.com.

Is This Appropriate?

If you’re familiar with the works, you know that there is a huge issue about whether these works are appropriate for a high school reader.

The issue, in our minds, isn’t that they aren’t considered part of the “traditional” literary canon (after all, how can a new novel be considered “traditional”?) but that they deal with a number of adult themes, and do so very vividly.

The novels contain everything from beheadings to incestuous relationships to rape to harems to torture, mind control, and sexual bigotry.

Are those messages we want to be sending our kids, or should we be teaching them how to respond to these aspects of life?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer, but we’ve decided to allow the submissions with written parent approval.