Common Core’s Range

What Jolliffe discusses in chapter 7, The Common Core Standards and Preparation for reading and Writing in College, brings attention to basic writers’ inability to sometimes explain conceptual understanding and demonstrate the ability to apply and build on complex topics with evidence. The Common Core standards guide has been recently adopted by policy makers to train instructors in Adult Education to ensure college readiness of learners. What seems most important in lesson planning (other than content) are the verbs a teacher may use to enhance students’ depth of knowledge such as: evaluate, analyze, synthesize, demonstrate, recall and apply. What some instructors discover is that students do not understand what these words mean when applied to practical application. However, students are encouraged to meet the standard, supersede it even, but not give to give up, because “contemporary college students’ reading abilities constitute a problem for their academic […] success” (137).

Also, these standards are associated with habits of mindfulness, so it would seem the Common Core is a guide to structured mindfulness in teaching and learning. Common Core standards have a common sense approach to developing students’ depth of knowledge, but (according to my Common Core standards trainer) the ‘creativity of the instructor’ also plays a role in how well students are able to apply and build on new skills. Creativity is the demonstration of original ideas, without the ingenuity of the instructor, students may miss out on learning opportunities due to lack of interest. That interest is created by students “grappl[ing] with works of exceptional craft [that] extends across genres, cultures, and centuries” (138). For the development of a syllabus or lesson plan the diversity of the lessons creates that extension. It has been stated by KLL that students’ miss out on learning opportunities by not learning things they are not interested in, I agree, but the dominating culture of literature in terms of what’s “in” and “out” makes the standard norm in range of exposure to various texts narrow. Maybe that restricted perspective may lead too much permanence in literature, which is why some outside of the field or basic writers think it is a ‘dead’ field.

The tenth anchor standard seems a bit restrictive in highlighting the “range and content” of student reading.  The “range” consisted of “seminal U.S documents, the classics of American literature, and the timeless dramas of Shakespeare” (138). Doesn’t seem like much variety. So, where exactly does the Common Core standard hold up to leaving no child behind if every child isn’t included into the lessons they are learning? As the Common Core standards trainer would say ‘the creativity of the instructor’ comes into play here again. Of all the poetry, fiction, drama, and informational texts, the lesson planning would have to be inclusive of multiple types of authors outside of the “classics”. I do not argue to do away with the classics but how can students “integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats as well as in words” by only engaging with the “classics” (140). Ideally, I’d cite a few quotes from an article arguing for more inclusiveness of diversity in English discourse from the ILA I came across last week, but will have to come back later and add those.

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6 thoughts on “Common Core’s Range

  1. ” the dominating culture of literature in terms of what’s “in” and “out” makes the standard norm in range of exposure to various texts narrow. Maybe that restricted perspective may lead too much permanence in literature, which is why some outside of the field or basic writers think it is a ‘dead’ field.”

    I’ve always wondered who gets to decide what’s Literature with a capital L and what’s not. Is it a time limit? This work has to be 75 years old to be considered a Classic. Meh.
    I think students don’t read, or maybe think it’s a dead field, because they don’t know how to relate to the content. Dr. Woodworth showed me a YouTube channel last week that breaks those classics down with modern language, and they show just how relatable to our lives the stuff really is. Check out Thug Books if you’re doing anything with lit.

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    1. I don’t like the Thug Book thing personally and find it a bit too ghetto to be relatable to the POC I know, students or friends. But, there are other authors like Saranji Naidu who are also worth while. I think classics are Easily relatable to anyone, but there is space for more than what is mentioned in the text.

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    2. I also think relating blackness to “Thug Books” in general further perpetuates the stereotype of black people only being able to identify with “thug” things, and that simply isn’t true despite the dominating culture of rap/hip-hop that portray a lie most black people don’t live at all. Its disappointing because that still isn’t diversity.

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      1. My intent was not to offend. My intent was to try to bring pop culture into the discussion as a way to show how society and interpersonal relationships don’t change that much over generations.

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      2. You are okay, I’m not offended at all. That’s just my opinion. I’m more so offended for our culture that those sort of examples exist to represent us and outweigh better examples.

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  2. “I do not argue to do away with the classics but how can students “integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats as well as in words” by only engaging with the “classics” (140). ”

    Much like you and KLL, I’ve also wondered how some texts become classics. They endure? But why do they endure? Isn’t it almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy? Instructors keep assigning them, so of course they endure. What was there first? Also, like you said, there is almost no diversity in the classics. It’s pretty much the adventures of straight, white men, written by straight, white men, with a few exceptions, of course.

    I saw an article yesterday about this one book store who turned every book written by a man around so that we could only see the covers of those written by women. They did this for the world women’s day on Wednesday. They said people were shocked when they saw the result, but I wondered why? I mean, are they really surprised? Maybe it was because they saw it visually in front of them. Only around 30% of the books in that store were written by female authors. There is a reason why women publish books with their initials, instead of their full first names. You sell better if readers assume you are a man, especially when it comes to children’ lit and science -fiction. Again, who decides what is a classic? I’ve tried to read some, and I was so bored that I gave up. I won’t waste my time reading something I don’t enjoy just because some people have decided it is a classic. Why would I expect my students to do that then? No, I just always encourage them to read. Reading anything, by default, is better than reading nothing.

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