This debate should’ve happened around Halloween, but we get to talk about it now.
I was working at the middle school in the month of October, and this English class was reading Edgar Allan Poe. When I first got there, they had finished The Raven, we’re finishing up Tell-Tale Heart, and were starting The Cask of Amontillado. By the time I left they finished The Masque of the Red Death.
We all know Poe is my favorite writer. I adore his work. But even I question whether this was smart or not.
Tell-Tale Heart is about a man who kills an elderly man in his care, chops him up, and stashed him under the floorboard. The Cask of Amontillado is about a man tricking an alcoholic into his family’s crypt so he can bury him alive. The Masque of the Red Death is about a plague that leaves a person bleeding to death in half an hour, while a prince hides him and his friends away to indulge in the seven deadly sins before the plague finally gets in and kills them all.
And to have to discuss this in vivid detail so they understand the story is even better.
As much as I loved talking about my favorite writer, it was hard to teach these stories to 12-13 year olds.
“Oh, Alexandra, they’ve probably seen/heard worse.”
But that’s not for me to say.
Education should teach you a variety of topics, especially in English, but I also think that it’s not up to us to expose something like this until certain ages, if that makes sense.
Should Poe be taught in middle school, then?
I don’t see a problem with having them read The Raven or The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. They are mild while still giving the reader a glimpse into the darkness that was Poe’s mind.
However, the ones that involve particular gore (because who doesn’t want to terrify children with a story about a plague that can kill you in 30 minutes) should be left to an older age. At least, in a school setting.
If for nothing else, I think the students would appreciate him and his writing more when they’re a little older.
But that is just my opinion based on experience and education.
I would love to know what you guys think about this situation.
Have a good day, everyone!