Where’s the literature?

Secondary teachers should stress classic works of literature, argue Sandra Stotsky and Mark Bauerlein in a paper critical of Common Core Standards. The new standards name only a few required texts, such as foundational American documents (for example, the Declaration of Independence) and a Shakespeare play, notes Ed Week.

(The standards) say that half of what students read in elementary school—and 70 percent in high school—should be informational, arguing that mastery of such texts mirrors the demands likely to be made on them in college and job training. is.

. . .  some English/language arts educators . . .  fear that literature will lose its important place in students’ studies. The standards’ architects have argued that the opposite is true: Teachers of social studies, science and other subjects will inherit new responsibilities for teaching writing and reading in their areas, freeing English/language arts teachers to dive deeply into literary works with their students.

Stotsky, a University of Arkansas professor nd a chief architect of Massachusetts’ highly regarded academic standards, and Bauerlein, an Emory English professor, believe “the analytical and critical-thinking skills developed by a deep study of literature” will prepare students for college more effectively than reading informational texts.

Private schools and public schools in affluent suburbs will teach a literature-rich curriculum, while most public school students will suffer from a “literature deficit,”  Stotsky and Bauerlein predict. That will widen the achievement gap, they write.

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn isn’t included in Massachusetts’ new Common Cored curriculum, write Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute. (It’s not banned either. It’s just not mentioned.) “These new English standards include less than half as much classic literature and poetry than the Massachusetts standards they will replace.”


Overconfident, underperforming

Don’t Think Too Highly of Yourself, warns Mark Bauerlein on the Education Next blog.  Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, he writes, “higher confidence does not go with better math scores.”   The Brown Center’s How Well Are American Students Learning? report used TIMSS data to compare eighth-grade students in different countries.

“Countries with more confident students who enjoy the subject matter–and with teachers who strive to make mathematics relevant to students’ daily lives–do not do as well as countries that rank lower on indices of confidence, enjoyment, and relevance.”

. . .  U.S. students rated themselves much more highly than did students in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Chinese Taipei, but they scored well behind that insecure group.  While 93 percent of U.S. eighth-graders failed to achieve an advanced score on the test, only 5 percent of them “disagreed a lot” with the statement that they “do well in math.”

A new report in the September issue of Learning and Individual Difference compares 15-year-olds’ reading skills in 34 countries, Bauerlein writes.  Students who lacked confidence in their skills tended to perform better than their classmates, while the overconfident performed worse.

Overconfidence “can be a sign not of prior superior achievement, but of inferior achievement, a defense mechanism against poor performance and skill level,” Bauerlein writes.

Via 11D, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry make fun of self-esteem on the not-Oprah Show.

And see the self-esteem section of It ain’t necessarily so.