Teaching Literature: The Failing of Common Core

Many parents are beginning to feel an unease about the Common Core’s affect on their child’s education and the unfolding of their character. I think they have a right to be concerned.  In particular, the literary inheritance of Western civilization is being threatened by the wholly utilitarian approach to the teaching of literature in Common Core schools.

Here is a great article by Denise Donahue at the Newman Society explaining the Common Core’s impoverished standards for the teaching of literature.  She exposes the Common Core founders’ belief that reading is merely about distilling facts and writing reports, so they take a New Criticism approach to teaching literature in which the author’s purposes, culture, and worldview are ignored, as is the reader’s response.  In the Common Core classroom, you do not discuss or consider the larger implications of the literature on our lives and choices. This makes it easier to test kids, but it also robs them of the greatest purpose of reading great literature: the shaping of their hearts, instilling in them a love for truth and beauty, and raising them to be wise .

For our children, stories are not just about texts and techniques, but also about people and relationships.  Stories are not just about literary styles and interpretive complexities, but also about exploration into the imaginative and powerful terms surrounding the nature of reality, morality, faith and virtue. Great literature presents images of nobility and excellence—and their opposites—for our judgment and self-judgment, as we engage in deep and meaningful discussions about what it means to be a fully actualized, good human being.

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