The Washington Post reported on December 7th that the new Common Core standards for Curriculum, which will be put in place in 46 states, will require that by graduation in 2014, 70 percent of all books studied have to be nonfiction.
The article reports:
Some suggested texts include “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council.
Wow. Won’t that encourage our children to read.
The article further reports:
The people behind the core have sought to defend it, saying that this was not meant to supplant literature. This increased emphasis on nonfiction would not be a concern if the core worked the way it was supposed to, with teachers in other disciplines like math and science assigning the hard technical texts that went along with their subjects. But teachers worry that this will not happen. Principals seem to be having trouble comprehending the requirement themselves. Besides, the other teachers are too busy, well, teaching their subjects to inflict technical manuals on their students too, and they may expect the English department to pick up the slack. And hence the great Purge of Literature.
What kind of children are we planning on raising? Anyone can order a government pamphlet and read it. There is no reason to waste time in high school reading how to insulate a house (unless you are training for construction). Reading literature helps students understand the challenges of those who have gone before them. It also (possibly) gives them an appreciation of the ease of the lives they live.
My favorite talk show host is Bill Bennett. I enjoy listening to him because he is the product of a Classical Catholic education. He talks as easily about Shakespeare as he does about recent events on Capitol Hill. His perspective is framed by his education in the classics of literature–not by what plants he can bring into California.
The Common Core Standards is one of the dumbest ideas to come along in a long time. I hope teachers will reject it quickly so that the students can actually learn to appreciate literature.
NOTE: I posted a similar article on December 7th. I am posting this article because I think it contains more detail on what is actually planned.