Tag Archives: Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum

No more reading To Kill A Mockingbird: The scourge of the ‘Common Core,’ Producing automatons in mass

9 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Common Core Standards have been introduced in most of the country. As the implementation of the standards proceeds, moi observation is the structure is geared to mass produce automatons which are defined:

automatons  plural of au·tom·a·ton (Noun)


  1. A moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
  2. A machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions.

Moi wrote about Common Core Standards in Will ‘Common Core Standards’ increase education achievement?

There will continue to be battles between those who favor a more traditional education and those who are open to the latest education fad. These battles will be fought out in school board meetings, PTSAs, and the courts.

There is one way to, as Susan Powder says, “Stop the Insanity.” Genuine school choice allows parents or guardians to select the best educational setting for their child. 2012 Brown Center report from the Brookings Institution, How Well Are American Students Learning? raises questions about what effect, if any, the Common Core Standards will have on education achievement:


What effect will the Common Core have on national achievement? The analysis presented here suggests very little impact. The quality of the Common Core standards is currently being hotly debated, but the quality of past curriculum standards has been unrelated to achievement. The rigor of performance standards—how high the bar is set for proficiency—has also been unrelated to achievement. Only a change in performance levels has been related to an increase in achievement, and that could just as easily be due to test score changes driving changes in policy, not the other way around.

The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. Within-state variation is four to five times greater. The sources of variation in educational outcomes are not only of statistical importance but also bear on the question of how much state policy can be expected to change schools. Whatever reduction in variation between, say, Naperville and Chicago that can be ameliorated by common standards has already been accomplished by Illinois’s

state efforts. State standards have already had a crack at it. Other states provide even more deeply rooted historical examples.

California has had state curriculum frame-The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2012/0216_brown_education_loveless/0216_brown_education_loveless.pdf

See, Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement, analysis says http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/common-core-wont-likely-boost-student-achievement-analysis-says/2012/02/16/gIQAOfZuJR_blog.htmlThe Common Core State Standards Initiative has some excellent information about the standards. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/19/will-common-core-standards-increase-education-achievement/

Some classic American literature may be dropped from the curriculum.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reports in the article, Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum:

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of ‘informational texts’.

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 the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.

“I’m afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.

“In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn’t it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9729383/Catcher-in-the-Rye-dropped-from-US-school-curriculum.html

The Common Core seems to ignore the value of a liberal arts education in favor of a checklist.

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?

Back in the day there was this book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Kenneth P. Ruscio argues in the Christian Science Monitor article, Why a liberal arts education is the best job preparation:

Although my own position, unsurprisingly, is that the fundamental philosophy of the liberal arts is more relevant today than it ever was, I base this belief on the strengths and weaknesses that today’s students bring to college. These strengths and weaknesses, in fact, are the opposite of what they were 20 years ago.

When I first started teaching, I found myself writing comments on term papers along the lines of, “You have a great thesis and you argue it with great passion and fluent writing. Unfortunately, you have no evidence to support it.”

When I left teaching a few years ago, I was writing comments like these: “Congratulations on the mass of data you have discovered. Unfortunately, you have no thesis or central argument. I have no idea what you are trying to prove.”

Students today can easily find information. The challenge is making sense of the whole, finding connections, evaluating the credibility of the information, taking a position, and dealing with complexity.

If ever there was a time when we should be emphasizing education – more than distributing information or training for specific jobs – if ever there was a time for the classic liberal arts, this is it. And I worry that in our enthusiasm to embrace new technologies, we will play too much to our students’ supposed strengths, ignoring the weaknesses they bring to us.

It is hard to find a commonly agreed-upon definition of the liberal arts. For those of us who experienced this kind of education, the definition would be personal. If we went to a college that claimed to be a liberal arts college, we would define a liberal arts education as what we got there.

For me, a liberal arts college is one premised on learning together what we cannot learn alone. A liberal arts education provides perspective and raises the “why” question along with the “what” question. In a hierarchy that starts with information, then moves up the ladder to knowledge, and then even higher to wisdom, a liberal arts college aspires to be operating at the highest rung.

One of the best books I have ever read on the liberal arts came out this year. “College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be” was written by Andrew Delbanco, a literature professor at Columbia University. Early on, he provides wonderful focus for what is to come.

“A few years ago,” he writes, “I came upon a manuscript diary – from 1850 – kept by a student at a small Methodist college, Emory and Henry, in southwest Virginia. One spring evening, after attending a sermon by the college president that left him troubled and apprehensive, he made the following entry in his journal: ‘Oh that the Lord would show me how to think and how to choose.’”

Mr. Delbanco considers that probably the best way to define the mission of the liberal arts: to teach people how to think and how to choose. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0919/Why-a-liberal-arts-education-is-the-best-job-preparation

We are developing a system to mass produce automatons.

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