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05 November 2015 @ 01:32 pm
I read this so you don't have to  
My friend Sharun November will post to Facebook from time to time about an article she has read to save the rest of us the horror. You can thank me for this one. I reads this article so you don't have to:
http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/education-2/middle-school-reading-lists-100-years-ago-vs-today-show-how-far-american-educational-standards-have-declined.

This post picks up on a truly heinous comparison between reading lists from 1908 and 2014. The original post lamented the lower reading levels, the less-than-literary selections, and the focus on texts that are "too modern." I responded to this original post here: http://professornana.livejournal.com/1002729.html

Now, this new piece adds more to the discussion. Here are the conclusions of this author who has taught at the college level only.

1. Good teachers do not assign Twilight.
2. To summarize the point, American students are not being taught about America.
3. Our children are not being taught how to read, which really means they are not being taught how to think.

All of this is pulled from the comparison of two sets of required reading lists. (Insert eye roll here)

Let me just says a few things:

1. Good teachers assign few to ZERO books. They offer choices. Those choices should range as widely as possible. But even if a teacher decided to feature excerpts of Twilight in a lesson, so what? Archetypes, motifs: they are present here as they are in Shakespeare. And probably more accessible to boot.

2. America is a pretty broad setting. I think if kids read books with specific settings, especially historic settings, they WILL learn about America. But is that the point of books? I do know I have learned a great deal of history, American and global history, when I have read historical fiction and nonfiction. Steve Sheinkin's MOST DANGEROUS is about Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Susan Campbell Bartoletti's new book is about Typhoid Mary, and I can honestly say I learned a great deal from it. But I have also learned about history from BAT 21 by Virginia Euwer Wolff and Gaijin by Matt Faulkner.

3. Our kids are being taught to read. And good books help them think as well. Force feeding them books out of print, far removed from the reality of present day life, and/or books selected to be "good" for them like vitamins are counterproductive.

The problem with posts such ass the original one that spawned this is that no one ever comes back and points out the fallacies. I am determined to do just that.
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