A reader posted a comment yesterday wondering why so many who read this blog are opposed to reading non-fiction, or in the jargon of the day, “informational text.”
This is a reference to the debate about the Common Core standards, which mandate a 50-50 split between literary/informational text in lower grades, and a 70-30 split in high school grades.
Let me clarify my own view, as well as what I have derived from hundreds of comments by parents and teachers. No one opposes reading non-fiction. You are reading an informational text right now! Teachers of science, history, and mathematics have always assigned informational texts. Few such classes read fiction. So the question comes down to what the English teacher assigns. Probably, if the English teacher assigned 100% fiction, the student would still be reading far more informational text in the course of a week than literature, because of the texts assigned in every other class.
The part that puzzles me is why a quasi-official body, the group that wrote the standards, whose edicts now have the power of the state to enforce them, thought it necessary or wise to create a numerical formula for English teachers. No one else teaches literature. The math teachers don’t. Neither do the civics teachers. (Frankly, it would be great if history teachers introduced fiction–like “Grapes of Wrath”– into their classes to help students get a sense of the lives that people led in other times.)
But sorry, I just don’t get the metrics. Whose wisdom decided on 50-50 and 70-30? Who will police the classrooms? Where is the evidence that these ratios are better than some other ratio or none at all?