Should Sci-Fi Be Mandatory?

Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain are familiar names to students across the country and world on required reading for schools.  But what about the names Heinlein, Asimov and Card?

If one West Virginia legislator has his way, students in schools will have be presented with “grade-appropriate science fiction literature” in middle and high school.

Ray Canterbury of Greenbrier County in West Virginia has introduced legislation in the last two sessions.  Last year it didn’t gain much traction but this year he’s working on finding co-sponsors and a series of editorials to get the message out.

“I’m not interested in fantasy novels about dragons,” Canterbury said in an interview with Blastr. “I’m primarily interested in things where advanced technology is a key component of the storyline, both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers.”

Canterbury goes on to say that he hopes even if the bill doesn’t gain any legislative momentum that it will garner some attention among Boards of Education across the state and they’ll consider adding genre fiction to the required reading lists.   He says that science-fiction could be a key to encouraging students to go into sciences and develop new technologies.

“In Southern West Virginia, there’s a bit of a Calvinistic attitude toward life—this is how things are and they’ll never be any different,” Canterbury says. “One of the things about science fiction is that it gives you this perspective that as long as you have an imagination and it’s grounded in some sort of practical knowledge, you can do anything you wanted to. So it serves as a kind of antidote to that fatalistic kind of thinking.”


  1. Joe Klemmer says

    All I can say to this is HELL YEAH! I was far more influenced by Asimov, Clark and Wells (as well as fantasy books like Watership Down and the like) when I was growing up than I was by any other literature. F&SF are the driving force behind the advancement of technology and even social change. Someday the world will realize this fact.

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