Well, let’s all wave goodbye to well-rounded education in the United States. Ok, we waved goodbye to that a long time ago–I mean, look at public schools. But a new initiative is set to take what little well-roundedness is left in public schools and flush it down the toilet.
According to the Telegraph:
“American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014…A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace…Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by “informational texts” approved by the Common Core State Standards…Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.”
First, music programs in many public schools are eliminated, now classic literature. There are many reasons why this is a terrible idea, and I’ll go through them one by one:
1. Public schools’ failure to adequately prepare children for the working world is not the fault of literature. It is not a dearth of “informational texts” that is the problem. A broken system is the problem. As long as the Liberals refuse to allow school choice and actual reforms, and instead, capitulate to every demand of the teachers’ union, there will be no real improvement.
2. Literature is an important part of intellectual development. Reading and analyzing classic literature–and modern literature–is paramount in social development, emotional development, and understanding differences in human perspective.
3. Reading fiction helps develop reading comprehension in young adults in a way that “informational texts” do not. It takes a story that young adults can relate to, and through that, increases comprehension and vocabulary.
4. Reading literature improves and helps develop reasoning skills in young adults. Reading books like To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher In The Rye reveals new perspectives on humanity to which young adults might not otherwise be exposed. It aids in the development of empathy and understanding of differences in reasoning.
The point of all of this is to say that literature is an important piece of personal development. Obviously, informational texts are equally important in different ways, but it is literature that stimulates imagination, shows us differing perspectives, and gives us characters and situations with whom we can relate. It is these characters and stories that inspire us in ways informational texts cannot. So, instead of trying to better prepare students for the working world by replacing literature with informational texts; how about we provide competition by allowing school choice and eliminating the teachers union.