An English teacher explains that she always teaches non-fiction in her courses. What she can’t understand is the mindset of those who want to impose a statistical straight jacket on teachers. She wonders if the people who did this have sound educational values.
“The argument that English teachers are opposed to non-fiction because they love literature is an unsubstantiated generalization. Just because you love English doesn’t mean you don’t love non fiction as anyone of my English colleagues could attest to. One does not have to have a bias against non fiction to find arbitrary percentage points embedded in a badly conceived aspect of Common Core suspect. In fact, what interests me is the notion that pointing out weaknesses in the Common Core is a bias of any kind. Is the Common Core so well conceived that it would never need to be refined or reconsidered in any aspect? Really?
“I am an English teacher that does not fit the generalization against non fiction. In fact, I have a specific preference for non fiction feature and argumentation which is evident in my classrooms and my own personal reading. In my middle school classes, students read good writing (both fiction and non fiction), although they write mostly non fiction. They write non fiction feature, argumentation and research papers. They write and read for a meaningful purpose: including for magazines created in class, for debate, for a wikipedia style encyclopedia…all of which requires substantial non fiction reading. I use fiction as a focal point of some units, but always I support those units with related non fiction (now called paired passages in our brave new world). I do not, because I love English, have an overwhelming love of literature above all other forms of quality writing. However, I do love quality reading and writing over read a passage answer some multiple choice questions about it, although that kind of instruction is necessarily a part of my teaching now.
“From my point of view, the reform movement is a failure not because it won’t ramp up some teachers’ efforts but because it doesn’t actually know what to value in education. The absurdity of requiring or inquiring about specific percentage points of fiction to non fiction as a means to insure rigor just illustrates the idiocy of data idolatry and the somewhat studied attempt of non educator reformists to nail down learning to a specific, codifiable set of skills and guides for teaching them. I think that is the case that needs to be made and the one that real reform minded people would not reject out of hand.”