Is teaching mythology still relevant to 21st century schools?
Granted, many middle school students love reading about mythology and tear through the many stories that have popularized the myths. Most recent books synthesize classic mythology with fantasy, such as the Rick Riordan books and the newer YA books that focus on goddesses.
Those books tend to be “choice” books for students to read on their own. The main question is: Should schools still teach classic Greek and Egyptian mythology when the trend is for classrooms to utilize every precious minute to teach needed reading and writing skills or read more non-fiction.
Mythology generally falls to the social studies teachers who introduce it in Ancient Civilization classes. Classic mythology is still relevant and should be taught as an element of a civilization—religion—just as government, education, trade, and social class is. Treating it differently, such as fantasy or fairy tales, does mythology and the students a great disservice. I don’t think any social studies teacher would dare call the stories of Judaism or Christianity fantasy or even mythology. Greek and Egyptian “mythology” was that civilization’s religion: The people fervently believed that the gods were atop Mount Olympus or that praying and offering sacrifice to Isis was the right thing to do.
Teachers should certainly encourage students to choose books they love to read, whether it is fantasy, mystery, or non-fiction. But pure classic mythology should be taught as it was believed and not perpetuate any misinformation from a fantasy/mythology book that changes the original story to make it a better fit in today’s society. Maybe there is a debut book coming out that has Jesus tweeting his parables.