Oh yeah, that makes sense

If you want an education to be mere training to be cogs in the machine, that is:

English teachers are fretting that a set of curriculum guidelines could reduce the teaching of fiction and poetry in the classroom, the Washington Post reports. The Common Core State Standards, which will be implemented by more than 40 states by 2014, require that 50 percent of elementary school reading be nonfiction, climbing to 70 percent by 12th grade. Supporters, the Post says, believe American students have suffered from “a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents,” leaving them unprepared for higher education and the working world.

Schools face problems ranging from overcrowded classrooms to crumbling buildings to malnourished students. But the idea of rigorous common standards in general, if not these specific guidelines, has support from powerful interests including the Department of Education, the U.S. Army and numerous reformists. Some of the suggested ideas would be a notable change from what almost all Americans remember of high school.

The Post writes:

Among the suggested non­fiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.

The standards “mandate certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and … Shakespeare.” That said, English teachers in particular are distressed over a perceived devaluing of literature.

Even though reading literature has been found to increase emotional intelligence, empathy and critical thinking. Hmm, maybe that’s the point!

4 Responses to Oh yeah, that makes sense

  1. imhotep December 5, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Let’s see….we’ve had kids reading the classics for 100 years and they still keep joining the Republican Party? Clearly they have no critical thinking skills now. So maybe an updated reading list will help? That list should also include reading the 100 page 1040 Tax Instruction booklet.

  2. lless December 5, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    This is all just scapegoating to cover the neo-liberal embrace of globalized cheap labor policies. No matter what they teach in English classes, living wages are an ineffiency.

  3. lurkerfan December 5, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    As a retired high school English teacher, I thank you for speaking out in defense of fiction and poetry. From Greek plays to Shakespeare to Dickens to Twain to Steinbeck and beyond, major works of fiction help young people understand what it is to be human.

    While recent studies on the brain show that young people do not develop the ability to exercise rational judgement until their mid-twenties, their emotions can be engaged earlier by exposure to memorable human stories that may resonate with them throughout the rest of their lives.

    In my own life, I believe that literature in general as well as specific works of fiction have had the effect of increasing my compassion and empathy for those whose lives are harder than mine.

  4. imhotep December 5, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Hmmmm……”neo-liberal embrace of globalized cheap labor policies.” Do you mean that the Capitalists want to keep us stupid so that we’ll work for free and kiss their asses for allowing us to work at all? Are you saying that the Republinas are neo-liberals? Are the Libertarians neo-liberals also?

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