I would be a terrible teacher of automotive mechanics. It's not because I don't know much about cars - which I don't, but certainly could learn - but rather I don't really care much about cars. That I arrive safely at my destination is the extent of my interest and if a heated seat or iPod dock are included in the journey, all the better. This lack of passion for the subject is a major problem in the English classes in our schools.
I can’t imagine, though maybe I'm wrong, that today’s English teachers are reading and teaching what their students want to read. And this is why we need vampires.
In 2008 Stephanie Meyer sold 28 million books in her Twilight series which is almost the exact number of secondary school students in the United States. Why can't we create a curriculum in one summer that would allow students to learn from this book? Could Twilight allow students to "Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text"?
Think about the effects it would have beyond the classroom. Instead of students coming home and expressing that outside of lunch school was a waste of time they could actually talk. Like to their parents. About something their parents could actually talk back about.
How do we get it to really work? Students probably can't spend all their time readying Young Adult fantasy novels but even that might be better that what is currently happening. On a functional level there would need to be some fiction:non-fiction ratio and there would need to be a serious breadth of options which would likely require a greater breadth of teachers. If you're a teacher at a school why can't you have a forty minute block talking about a book you proposed? Any competent teachers could have groups of students "Compare and Issue", "Restructure the Plot", "Define words using contextual clues". Teachers would make proposals to administrators about possible books and how they could fit, administrators would do their best Julius Caesar giving the yah or nay and teachers would get to work teaching something that wasn't Julius Caesar.
Teachers would probably have to do more work but it would be better, more enjoyable work. An abolition of 18th, 19th and early 20th century American literature doesn't need to happen but it does need to become linked to the present.
Noone prefers a packaged, microwavable, frozen meal to something cooked from fresher ingrediants in a slower way but this is how we teach. Teachers re-heat The Scarlet Letter lesson plans and students understandably don't like the way it tastes. It might be time for some 'home cooking' and if vampires are invited to the table all the better.