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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Schools Are Teaching Less Fiction Because Fiction Isn't Helpful for Shitty Business Jobs

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Melville House ruined my morning with this story:

The Common Core guidelines, which have been adopted in 45 states and three territories, call for schools and teachers to boost reading of nonfiction, so that by twelfth grade most students are reading more ‘informational text’ than fictional literature. By 2014, the required ratio will be 50% nonfiction to fiction in elementary school, and that should grow to 70% by grade 12.

Get a load of this speech by David Coleman, one of the "brains" behind the Common Core guidelines:

Forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with … [that] writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a [expletive] about what you feel or what you think. What they instead care about is, can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you’re saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me? It is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’

This is very bad. This paragraph kind of makes me queasy when I read it. Fiction is very important, especially to developing minds, but the problem is that there's no way to quantify how important it is, and America's educational philosophy has become so quantification-based that I think fiction in American schools is probably doomed. And if that's true, I'd say we're probably doomed. Fiction is the best way we have to put ourselves in the bodies of others, to feel what other people feel and to experience what they experience. Fiction is the best way we have to expand our imaginations, and humans are useless without imagination. If we as a society are going to teach our children that the best they can be is grey-skinned middle-managers, we're totally fucked as a nation.

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