Common core

Dateline: Wed 16 Jan 2013

As the issue of Common Core Curriculum heats up in Indiana, with Indiana Republican legislator Rep. Scott Schneider introducing his bill to get rid of the national standards for education in the Hoosier state, you may want to read this:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/what-should-children-read/

As an English major and champion of the narrative, I was more than a little surprised to read about what's in store for those teaching and studying English.

To quote the author, Sara Mosle, a contributor to the New York Times and an educator in New Jersey:

"The standards won't take effect until 2014, but many public school systems have begun adjusting their curriculums to satisfy the new mandates. Depending on your point of view, the now contentious guidelines prescribe a healthy - or lethal - dose of nonfiction.

"For example, the Common Core dictates that by fourth grade, public school students devote half of their reading time in class to historical documents, scientific tracts, maps and other "informational texts" - like recipes and train schedules. Per the guidelines, 70 percent of the 12th grade curriculum will consist of nonfiction titles. Alarmed English teachers worry we're about to toss Shakespeare so students can study, in the words of one former educator, "memos, technical manuals and menus."

"David Coleman, president of the College Board, who helped design and promote the Common Core, says English classes today focus too much on self-expression. "It is rare in a working environment," he's argued, "that someone says, 'Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.' "

Mosle supports Coleman's thesis and makes a powerful argument for the reading of excellent non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. She defines it as  "writing that tells a factual story, sometimes even a personal one, but also makes an argument and conveys information in vivid, effective ways" and especially says it is found, historically (my additon) in newspapers and magazines and "in the dwindling outlets for long-form journalism." 

"Students." she writes, "are a natural (and the future) audience for serious, in-depth reporting. Skilled practitioners can demonstrate the power of facts, and provide models - topic sentence by topic sentence - for compelling narrative."

Her conclusion:

"There are anthologies of great literature and primary documents, but why not "30 for Under 20: Great Nonfiction Narratives?" Until such editions appear, teachers can find complex, literary works in collections like "The Best American Science and Nature Writing," on many newspaper Web sites, which have begun providing online lesson plans using articles for younger readers, and on ProPublica.org. Last year, The Atlantic compiled examples of the year's best journalism, and The Daily Beast has its feature "Longreads." Longform.org not only has "best of" contemporary selections but also historical examples dating back decades."

Mosle's arguments are sound, but one wonders how plentiful all this "best journalism" will be with fewer reporters, less teeth, shorter stories, etc? To quote Capt. James Hook, (yes, "Peter Pan," "This is where the cancer gnaws."

 

 

Comments

hendy [Member] said:

Common Core is an unknown quantity in a number of ways, and its effects won't be known for two generations. Part of non-fiction and factual representation comes from knowing theory of knowledge, and other examinations which might be too difficult for some to want to delve into. This includes the Religious Right, which seems to be not interested in having things like their theos challenged. It is in that challenge that there are increases and decreases in "faith", but the noise is to difficult for some ears to want to hear.

2013-01-16 10:12:37

Gene Poole [unverified] said:

Secular orthodoxy delights in the gray of unknown quantities. There's programatic green in fleecing a gamed public with stuff they call "policy."

Indoctrinating children with wealth redistribution narratives isn't math- it's an insidious agenda.

Thomas Aquinas wasn't spooked by delving into science & "Common Core" won't survive appropriate disclosure or exposure of what it is...

2013-01-16 20:35:33

hendy [Member] said:

It's not Thomas Aquinas that I was referring to. The difference between the "classical education" and one that is poised more towards expository writing after investigation and observation has been a right-wing anathema.

Although I'm secular in nature, you're welcome to teach what you feel is necessary in terms of spirituality at home, and not in my children and grandchildren's classroom.

Your characterization of what Common Core is an does needs a revisiting. If you do, you'll see it's not what you believe it to be.

2013-01-17 17:57:14

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Critical thinking is being replaced by job training.

2013-01-17 19:53:28

Jason [unverified] said:

I think Tom nailed it. "Elective" courses from woodshop to foreign languages, and evidently literature, are being cut and I think they're trying to blend it all together. Half of the joy in school is in learning things that have no applicability in day-to-day life. It also makes you a much better Jeopardy player.

I'm thinking about switching my everyday handwriting back to the broken cursive I used in school just to keep the art alive.

2013-01-18 05:52:46

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