Diana Senechal demonstrates how the Common Core standards may be misinterpreted. She gives the example of a video lesson purporting to teach students how to interpret a poem, in this instance William Wordworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” familiarly known as “The Daffodils.”

Students are supposed to summarize each stanza in their own words and write it on a sticky note, according to the instructor on the video. This almost makes Diana scream, “No!”

She writes:

“I question the premise that this is a helpful activity. The reason poetry is worth reading in the first place is that it makes singular use of language; it cannot be translated into prose. Restating a stanza in your own words takes you away from the language of the poem itself. Yes, some poems have complex constructions that need to be teased apart, but that does not have to involve restatement; or when it does, one can restate the specific construction, not an entire stanza. To restate a stanza is to stop it at the border and say, “You may not cross over into my mind with your own goods; you must exchange them for mine.”

And she explains that there are far better ways to teach poetry.

Is this a problem inherent in the Common Core standards or the implementation or something else? All three, she argues.