Monday, December 3, 2012

pedants' revolt

English teachers across America are resisting the new Common Core Standards for elementary and secondary schools because they require half the readings to be nonfiction. I like the new standards. I think students should read more and write more, but they need to go beyond "literature" if they are to develop critical thinking skills. I also like it when students have to memorize poems and recite then aloud. But that doesn't help them to dissect an argument for a new environmental regulation or comprehend instructions for filling out a government form.

Nonfiction doesn't have to be boring. There are exciting history books, biographies, travel and science books, even policy books advocating different approaches to deal with poverty or climate change or internet technology. Even speeches in Congress now score at the junior high school level. Read 'em and weep.

UPDATE: Here is more information on those standards and a sample reading list. Any objections?

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