A Lesson for Common Core Enthusiasts
Someone sent me an interesting link from the Gates-funded Center for American Progress the other day, about how we could all do fabulous close reading things with the Common Core standards. Believe it or not, just about every organization that's taken money from Gates has fallen head over heels in love with Common Core, on which Gates spent a whole lotta cash. Go figure.
During the 2014-15 school year, more high school seniors read the young adult-oriented booksThe Fault in Our Stars and Divergent than Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Hamlet, according to a report that tracks what K-12 students at more than 30,000 schools are reading during the school year. These books are generally self-selected, making it not all that surprising that students would prefer to read a contemporary New York Times bestseller than a 17th-century play written in early modern English. And while some of the books that students select are thematically targeted to a mature audience, they are not particularly challenging to read for the average high schooler. The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent, for example, have the readability of a fourth- or fifth-grade text in terms of sentence structure and word difficulty.
God forbid that students should read stuff they enjoy. The end of the world is nigh. What we should value, according to this logic, is difficulty rather than content. Allowing students to self-select has a negative connotation in that paragraph. I'd argue the opposite. If students love to read, they will practice it without guns to their heads. Then, when they are presented with difficult readings, they will figure out how to get through them and deal with them. Forcing them to plod through Shakespere if they don't wish to is not how you get motivated readers. They continue:
Three of the top five most commonly assigned titles in grades 9 through 12 are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible, and Of Mice and Men. All three books, while classics, are not particularly challenging in terms of sentence structure and complexity
Can you imagine that? Those crappy teachers are assigning books because of depth of theme, and they have no regard for how rigorous they NYC Educator: A Lesson for Common Core Enthusiasts: