Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Minor Musing: Will A Student Who Graduates Under Common Core Standards Be Able To Understand Dave Barry's Recent Column?

Dave Barry does an excellent job of reviewing 2012. In the process, he probably gives Common Core advocates a bit of hope when he references Hamlet.
It was a cruel, cruel year — a year that kept raising our hopes, only to squash them flatter than a dead possum on the interstate.
Example: This year the “reality” show Jersey Shore, which for six hideous seasons has been a compelling argument in favor of a major earth-asteroid collision, finally got canceled, and we dared to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we, as a society, were becoming slightly less stupid.
But then, WHAP, we were slapped in our national face by the cold hard frozen mackerel of reality in the form of the hugely popular new “reality” show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which, in terms of intellectual content, makes Jersey Shore look like Hamlet.
The fine folks who are reassuring English teachers throughout the nation that "classic literature will not be lost with the implementation of the new standards" are probably a bit disappointed that Barry does not claim that 2012 was "the best of years and the worst of years" or that "the entire year consisted of the month a April, notorious for being cruel." Those after all are allusions to classic literature that should not be "lost." It's unclear whether Common Core advocates understand the pop culture references.

Of course, the students who are expected to understand Hamlet live in a world dominated by Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo. They probably have not heard of either Dickens or Eliot. Emphasis on non-fiction, something the Common Core demands, makes it impossible to teach all of the literature, classic or otherwise, that has been taught in the past. Longer school years will not occur in the current political environment.

Ironically then, the emphasis on non-fiction will mean that Barry's wonderful column will be less appreciated because the "classic literature" will be taught less frequently and totally divorced from the culture that students inhabit.

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