Happy Ending, Happy Readers? Questionable Simplification in an Adapted Version of Greek Mythology

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Napanant Montkhongtham


The aim of this paper is to have educators contemplate the reading materials selected for children. Three chapters of The Stories of Greek Heroes, a simplified version of Greek mythology used in an eighth-grade English reading class at a Thai secondary school in the 1990s and 2000s, were selected for discussion. They are compared and contrasted to their equivalent chapters in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, a text chosen for a third-year English class at the Faculty of Arts of a Thai university during the same period of time. This paper analyzes the nine differences between these two versions of Greek mythology, which were selected for readers of different ages, and how certain messages constrained in the stories may affect younger readers’ minds. Moreover, the pros and cons of the eighth-grade version are also discussed. While proponents of simplification argue that the intention behind the censorship of particular aspects is to protect young minds and society, those against it focus on depicting an authentic view of society and humanity and particularly on preparing students for the real world. In short, realism proponents believe in presenting a text that shows what the world is whereas simplification advocates prefer to depict what should be. Potentially, a supervised setting is an answer for both sides. If educators carefully examine the advantages and disadvantages of simplification, they should be able to choose appropriate reading materials or a fitting means with which to educate their students and responsibly help their students effectively relate textual meanings to what they experience in their real lives.


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Author Biography

Napanant Montkhongtham

Napanant Montkhongtham acquired her BA in English at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. Her minors were French and philosophy. After graduation she taught English at Chulalongkorn University Demonstration School (Secondary) for two years before pursuing her MA in Liberal Studies at the University of Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. Her major was creative writing. She has been an English instructor at Chulalongkorn University Language Institute for seven years, teaching English for sciences and technology. Now she is also pursuing her PhD in English Language Studies (International Program) at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University. Her research interests include cognitive stylistics, creative writing, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics.


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