Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Paul S. Brantley

Second Advisor

Douglas Jones

Third Advisor

Delmer Davis

Abstract

Problem. Literature, as a subject in the English curriculum, is not taught in all Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) secondary schools in the Caribbean. This research attempts to investigate and document the reasons why this subject is not taught as part of the English curriculum in some schools and yet is taught in other schools. Literature, as a course of study, addresses philosophical, moral, ethical, and spiritual questions, and often teachers are not the central controllers in determining whether this subject should be taught in church-operated secondary schools. The literature teacher’s role could be pivotal in this situation, but only if the constituency under which each school falls, allows for the teacher’s input in decision making. Depending therefore on the circumstances that obtain in the various geographic regions under study, literature may or may not be taught. The problem of the teaching or non-teaching of literature involves several factors, and the English teacher’s perception could be influenced by these.

Method. A qualitative mode of inquiry was used to explore findings. Questionnaires were sent to every teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) secondary schools in Antigua, Barbados, Bequia. Dominica, Grenada, St. Croix, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Tobago, and Trinidad. The eight-page questionnaire was centered around six basic research questions that dealt with both teachers’ philosophy on this subject and their classroom practice. The completion of the questionnaires was followed up by telephone and face-to-face interviews and three case studies.

Findings. The study revealed that of the 34 teachers who teach English in all the Seventh-day Adventist secondary schools in selected regions of the Caribbean, 15 teachers did not teach literature. However, all 34 of these teachers perceived literature as being important to the English curriculum. They perceived it in varying degrees of importance in relationship to other subjects in language arts such as grammar, drama, and composition. Reservations persisted on the use of fiction, but these were primarily based on faulty moral, spiritual, and philosophical standards expressed in works and not on the basis that fiction is false and not true to fact. On the whole, teachers believed that literature is beneficial to students and should be taught in all schools, although several factors sometimes militate against this. They perceive literature as an effective vehicle for communicating values as well as a catalyst for fostering critical and analytical thinking and writing.

Conclusions. The study has given English teachers an opportunity to examine their own philosophical and ideological positions as to why they do or do not teach literature. As a result, it has sensitized them to the important role this subject plays in the lives of students by means of its values in improving writing skills, critical and analytical thinking skills, appreciation for the aesthetics of language, and the communicating of life values through themes, characters, and plot action. The research has also enlightened teachers to an interpretation and understanding of several of Ellen White's counsels on the reading of fiction and the studying of literature in Seventh-day Adventist schools and colleges.

Subject Area

Literature--Study and teaching (Secondary).

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