Thursday, November 01, 2012

High School English Curriculums

Dave White, a middle school teacher  and a fine writer, said on the blog DO SOME DAMAGE, that in his school system by senior year, the kids are reading 90% non-fiction in English classes. What they read is mostly business reports and such to prepare them for their future in business.

Does you school system adhere to this sort of thinking? No wonder people don't read novels as adults when the school system devalues fiction like this. Reading fiction is a kid's thing they are in effect saying. What is more difficult to read: Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens or a business report. Which one teaches a kid critical thinking?Which one illuminates another world.

Where will kids ever be introduced to good writing if not in high school? Shame, shame on the school system. I pray this one is in the minority in this bad idea.

28 comments:

Thomas Pluck said...

We're failing a generation if we plan on stuffing them with facts instead of teaching them how to observe and deduce, compose their thoughts, and come to empirical conclusions. You know, THINK.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Amen. What kind of pedagogical thinking is this? Or is it driven by tests that look at comprehension of such documents rather than literature.

George said...

When my son was in Middle School, the English Department wanted to drop CALL OF THE WILD because they thought it was "too hard" and "not relevant" to students. I went to a series of meets where I defended Jack London's classic. But, as soon as my son moved on to the High School, they dropped CALL OF THE WILD and replaced it with a non-fiction book.

Charles Gramlich said...

I know this isn't the case at the high school in my home town in Charleston, Arkansas, where some of my relatives teach. It reminds me of that commercial about the kids who get no art not being able to appreciate it at all but making some dry business statement about it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Today I read that a study showed that young people are losing empathy. They exhibit a 40% lower level of empathy than they did a decade ago. What kind of people are we raising?

Dan_Luft said...

I think the underlying message is: don't bother with that fiction crap, you're going to be practically living at work anyway.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Alas, with the adoption of Common Core Standards, the phasing out of literature will become--well, standard. Not to the total exclusion of lit, but there are percentage requirements per year in school. I agree that it's a horrible idea and that what needs to be changed is pedagogy, not content, in order to "prepare" students for the world...Too bad that will never happen.

Deb said...

My Freshman twins are reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction in their Honors English class. Last quarter they had to read a mon-fiction book and write 10 critical essays. One twin chose a biography of Davy Crockett, the other read a memoir by Matthew Shepherd's mother. This quarter the class is reading Flowers for Algernon, which disheartened me somewhat because I read that in high school--and I'm no spring chicken. But they also have to choose a non-fiction about me tal disabilities to read.

I could write a book about how the emphasis on standardized tests is ruining our education system...and don't even get me started on kids growing up without empathy, but I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Many people, in fact all the ones I know, do not head into business. It makes as much sense as having them read the procedure for taking out a gall bladder or what a tort is.

Anonymous said...

Patti, Jackie says the non fiction reading is indeed driven by tests, though she's never heard of them reading business reports and in English class they do still read fiction - at least on the middle school level.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

The empathy thing issue true and very scary. When you think there is nothing wrong with going on Facebook and advising a bullied teen that you don't know that she should kill herself there is something very wrong with you and how you were brought up.

And stay off my lawn!

Jeff M.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

My youngest son Scott got in repeated trouble the last two years of school (he graduated last May) because he read what he wanted to like his English teachers said he could. They wanted him to read non-fiction and insisted on it, even though he wanted to read fiction.

Richard R. said...

Since I went to a K-8 school, then high school, I don't know what "middle school" means.

pattinase (abbott) said...

6-8, 7-8; 7-9. It differs but usually the most difficult age for kids.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Middle school here is grades 6-8. then you have High School (9-10) and Senior High (11-12).


Kevin
(still not a robot no matter what the thingy says--attempt four)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Never heard of three divisions before. It must be expensive.
I have done as many as ten on occasion, but I hate it. Every time I take it down, the spam begins.

Erik Donald France said...

Such was never the case in the high school I attended in North Carolina, nor in the two schools I worked at that had a high school component, in Virginia and Michigan. On top of that, I was able to teach Latin American Studies and the Great War & the 1920s, using novels, short stories and poetry in both. I did have to teach Economics and that's where business showed up, things like Freakonomics and Nickle and Dimed.

Erik Donald France said...

p.s. I meant to write, "plus" things like . . .

James Reasoner said...

I'm pretty sure the kids here still read mostly fiction in high school English classes.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I hope so. It looks like Texas is leading the way.

Jerry House said...

I understand students in Texas read a lot of fiction in all their textbooks.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Not true as to fiction or leading the way. Texas is, unfortunately, adopting the same common core standards that are being adopted nationwide.

It is easy to tar all of Texas and Texans with the same brush. The jokes and cheap shots based on grossly inaccurate news stories get very old.

John said...

I have no children, but I think if I did I'd have to home shcool them to give them an education that is more human and enriching than what I'm reading about here. Makes me shiver to think of educating young people to become so cold and analytical and nothing more than tools to provide the best test taking statistics.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sometimes I think I'd like to home school my grandson.

Kent Morgan said...

I would have read almost anything to avoid having to read Hardy's The Return of the Native in high school.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Me, too. But it probably taught you to read difficult texts.

Richard R. said...

We read a lot of fiction in my high school (grades 9-12) English classes. A LOT, and we discussed it a lot and we wrote a lot of "book reports" on it, and essays on it. I was glad, it got me so into literature, since I already read a lot of science fiction and some mystery. I went on to major in English in college.

pattinase (abbott) said...

About all we did after ninth grade was read poetry, novels, plays and criticism. I guess all this has changed.