Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Education Reform

What a boring topic! You can stop right here, and I won't even bat an eyelid. Except that this is "The Gods Are Bored," and we like to poke stupid things with sharp objects.

Education in America is quickly becoming "one size fits all," and the sizing is coming from a new national curriculum. The new curriculum for Language Arts (aka English) includes reading history texts like the Gettysburg Address. But this national standard stuff goes farther. It aims to use Language Arts class to analyze historical documents over the entire period of American history ... or, at least up to the Civil Rights Era.

Someone, somewhere concluded that since people don't read novels in their jobs, they shouldn't waste time reading them in school. And forget poetry. Poetry? Ha! A Shakespeare play here or there should do it. More important to read "seminal historical documents, e.g. George Washington's Farewell Address."

Okay, so I just tried to read Georgie's farewell address, and it was duller than the dirtiest dirt on the bottom of a honeydipper's boot. Calling it boring just doesn't suffice. I love to read, and I couldn't get past Page 1. Heck, Page 1 and Paragraph 1 are pretty much one and the same, and I couldn't finish either.

This same national curriculum lists Little Women as a "recommended" novel. If you have time to read a novel, that is. Gotta cover those seminal American documents!

The good news is that when the administrators come to evaluate me, they won't have to look for "student engagement," because I'll be so bored that I'll be the one with my head down, asleep in class.

News flash: I will never teach George Washington's Farewell Address. And I would rather be hoisted on my own petard (whatever that means) than teach Little Women. Boredom between bookends!

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I'd say America's students just got a thick new shot of asphalt.


Anonymous said...

Always happy to educate the educator. A "petard" is a small bomb; it's a very early use of gunpowder. (The word means "farter" in French; you may forget everything else about "petards" but you'll remember that!) Things were "hoisted" by them means that they are literally blown upward. So to be hoist by one's own petard is to fall fall of one's own destructive act.

You can tell I never had to read George Washington's Farewell Address and call it literature, can't you ... those poor kids. Education is supposed to give you tools to think with. Instead, they're busy thickening the asphalt.

Lori F - MN said...

does anyone know what reading is manditory for citizenship? maybe that's where the ciriculum comes from.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oh, for the glory days of The Great Gatsby!


I remember bitching about some of the books on the reading list when I was in school and then being pleasantly surprised when I loved them..

Anonymous said...

I haven't read any of Washington's addresses, but my favorite quote is from him: "Anyone who wants the job of President, doesn't deserve it."
but I liked Little Women, though I liked Jo's Boys better.

Chas Clifton said...

This goes around and around. A century ago the progressive reformer John Dewey also said that there was no purpose in most high school students reading, for instance, Shakespeare.

Evidently Shakespeare was for the 1%, to use today's lingo.

shel said...

I'm pretty happy w/the reading curriculum for my kids (we're in TN.) It ranges from "Animal Farm" to "Hunger Games." No kidding. Three to four mandatory summer novels & three or four during the school year. The standardized test reviews? I'm less happy with those.