English teacher J.D. Wilson agrees with much of what the standards aim to accomplish. But he is disturbed by the subtle shift the new standards are already causing in his classroom at Wareham High School in Wareham, Mass.Perhaps I have not read enough literature, then. But my long-ago observation of those who read and taught literature for a living--professors and graduate students--makes me wonder how strong the correlation is between the reading of literature and wisdom. And I wonder whether high school seniors have the experience against which they might test what they find in books, and so perhaps gather some wisdom. I don't think I did at that age.
“Reading for information makes you knowledgeable — you learn stuff,” Wilson said. “But reading literature makes you wise.”
Monday, December 3, 2012
Reading for Wisdom
Today's Washington Post carries an article on the new Common Core State Standards, and their effect on the teaching of high school English. I am not sure why the students are not getting their "informational texts" in the history classes or other humanities, though the requirement that non-fiction constitute 70% of 12th-grade reading does suggest that some of the material will need to be covered in English classes. What I most noticed in the story, though, was the reaction of a teacher: