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Common Core's Effect on Teaching Classic Literature

Common Core Standards have forced educators into a “teach to test,” kind of role and one report shows that Common Core might also be responsible for a shift in the way students learn classic literature.

“There is a shift away from teaching classic literature in the schools, according to a report by the Brown Center,” reports Vivian Hughbanks of Heartland.

“Michael Godsey, a high school English teacher at San Luis Obispo High School in California says the culprit, at least in part, is Common Core standards. The K-12 standards for English language arts focus on text comprehension and communication techniques and deemphasize reading of imaginative literature such as fiction by Dostoyevsky, Austen, and Homer.”

Rather than learning about classic literature and learning more about some of the great authors in history, students are steered in the direction of stories that blatantly provide context clues and ways of effective communication. While these are two skills that are very necessary, students are missing out on classic tales that can spur imagination and creativity.

“Teachers are including more nonfiction articles and less classic fiction in their classes because of Common Core,” reports Hughbanks.

“According to a 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education, fourth-grade teachers are teaching 8 percent more nonfiction works than in 2009.”

Hughbanks doesn’t just highlight the lack of classic literature in the classroom as the only culprit; the report also claims that technology in and out of the classroom has become a distraction for students making them “less interested in reading.”

“The unfortunate thing is that there is much classic literature that is in fact quite relevant to young people’s lives if you have a teacher who brings it alive,” said Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University English professor, according to Hughbanks’ report.

It certainly becomes harder on the educator to bring these pieces of literature to life and Common Core Standards doesn’t look to be helping the situation according to Hughbanks’ reporting. Is it up to the teachers to go against the Common Core alone? The battle is much larger than many may think.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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