Don't Grab a Novel, Read FedViews by the Federal Reserve Bank
December 13, 2012
Your kids will be reading a lot more non-fiction from now on. The Common Core English Standards requires 50% of the reading in elementary and 70% by 12th grade to be non-fiction. The Washington Post revealed that there is a lot of controversy over the amount of non-fiction reading.
According to the article, secondary English teachers don't want to teach that amount of informational text. They're upset about the absence of poetry, short stories, and novels, selections that will no longer fit within the required reading.
The Post article says, "Yes, the standards do require increasing amounts of nonfiction from kindergarten through grade 12, [David] Coleman [of The Gates Foundation] said. But that refers to reading across all subjects, not just in English class, he said. Teachers in social studies, science and math should require more reading, which would allow English teachers to continue to assign literature, he said."
Also quoted is English teacher J.D. Wilson who said in the Post article, "“Reading for information makes you knowledgeable — you learn stuff,” Wilson said. “But reading literature makes you wise.”"
The Answer Sheet lists what texts The Common Core suggest High Schoolers should read.
This linked .pdf includes the titles that "serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require all students in a given grade band to engage with." Here's some of the list from 11th grade:
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Informational Texts: English Language Arts
Paine, Thomas. Common Sense
Jefferson, Thomas. The Declaration of Independence
United States. The Bill of Rights (Amendments One through Ten
of the United States Constitution)
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Society and Solitude.”
Porter, Horace. “Lee Surrenders to Grant, April 9th, 1865.”
Chesterton, G. K. “The Fallacy of Success.”
Mencken, H. L. The American Language, 4th Edition
Wright, Richard. Black Boy
Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.”
Hofstadter, Richard. “Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth.”
Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.”
Anaya, Rudolfo. “Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry.”
Informational Texts: History/Social Studies
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America
Declaration of Sentiments by the Seneca Falls Conference
Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?: An Address Delivered in Rochester, New York, on 5 July 1852.”
An American Primer. Edited by Daniel J. Boorstin
Lagemann, Ellen Condliffe. “Education.”
McPherson, James M. What They Fought For 1861–1865
The American Reader: Words that Moved a Nation, 2nd Edition
Amar, Akhil Reed. America’s Constitution: A Biography
McCullough, David. 1776
Bell, Julian. Mirror of the World: A New History of Art
FedViews by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects
Paulos, John Allen. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Tyson, Neil deGrasse. “Gravity in Reverse: The Tale of Albert Einstein’s ‘Greatest Blunder.’”
Calishain, Tara, and Rael Dornfest. Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching, 2nd Edition
Kane, Gordon. “The Mysteries of Mass.”
Fischetti, Mark. “Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control.”
U.S. General Services Administration. Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
Kurzweil, Ray. “The Coming Merger of Mind and Machine.”
Gibbs, W. Wayt. “Untangling the Roots of Cancer.”
Gawande, Atul. “The Cost Conundrum: Health Care Costs in McAllen, Texas.”
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The texts are, in my estimation, challenging. Do you agree? Do you think our kids are up for the challenge?
I feel very conflicted about these Standards and am definitely in the group concerned about the lack of fiction and poetry, among other things.
Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer, an award-winning educational blogger at ImaginationSoup, an award-winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, and a mom of two children, ages 6 and 9. Follow Taylor on Twitter or find her on Facebook.
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