from a Slashdot comment I just wrote on the topic of people not reading as much. it was a reply to this comment
Argh...

In Britain the GCSE (exam taken when you're about 16) for English is a complete son of a bitch. You can't take a poem on its relative merits, nonono, you can't ENJOY THE FRIGGIN POEM and write about what you think of it, you have to deconstruct it, turning every single friggin line into a stream of mumbo jumbo with words like "pentameter" and "rhythm", rather than beautiful poetry. In the same lessons we had to deconstruct, in the same manner, an article on CNN.com. Yes, you heard me right, our job was to deconstruct a CNN article and look for "literary devices" that were apparently deliberately strewn throughout the text. Maybe they were accidental? Dammit, you shouldn't make people deconstruct things and study them in detail! It just pisses them off and stops them from reading, because they remember all that work they did on a 20 line paragraph and think "fuck that".

Even worse, we had to do war poetry. I don't mind war poetry, but you have a big book full of war poetry and you're only allowed to use about 10 poems from it. This selection is ALL, bar one or two poems, about World War One. There was, IIRC, one poem from WW2 and two from the Cold War. People these days probably wouldn't identify with the WW1 poetry and more with the Cold War poetry, but we were told to focus on the WW1 stuff.

THIS.

SUCKS.

One of the best poems in that book wasn't in that selection, and you were discouraged from doing anything to do with it. Now that is fucked up, and it drives me friggin' mental.

Another brilliant example of why the UK desperately needs exam reform, and why I want to nuke these bastards.

Note that this is no disrespect to my English teacher, who was a brilliant teacher (despite pronouncing "nuclear" as "new-kew-lar" which drove me utterly nuts), just the exam system which she was teaching.