The Fiction of Common Core
Common Core State Standards may or may not rock your world, but it has affected you in someway if you are any of the following:
As an educator it has already affected your world. I’m not going there at this time. I feel your pain, and rejoice in your triumphs as we plod our way through this new-to-us (for the most part) curriculum.
As a parent it will affect your kidz education. In a good way. For the most part. Trust me, the CCSS is not as bad as you’ve heard. The main aspect of Common Core is getting our students to understand their world better through the development of critical thinking skills. A very good thing.
As a writer, I’m not sure how it will affect you. That depends if you write fiction or non-fiction. Non-fiction is getting the big focus in the CCSS makeover. If you think about it, most of what we read is non-fiction, ranging from the back of the Cheerios box to the science textbook to the summons to appear in traffic court. Learning how to break down the text, to synthesize it, paraphrase it, and process the information is indeed an important skill, one needed to be successful in this crazy info-laden world of ours. And yet And yet, we need to feed our minds with the language of fiction as well. That’s where you come in as a writer of fiction.
You might have heard the doomsayers extolling the death of fiction by the hands of those horrible, terrible, no-good eduniks who dreamt up the CCSS curriculum. Meh. Don’t let them worry you. Keep writing about neverlands, tomorrows, pasts, and todays. Here’s why: there are specific standard built around students reading fiction, specifically stories, fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures (ELA Standard RL 3.2) Common Core comes down to caring about how students develop their critical thinking skills, instead of focusing on the content. Teachers can switch up the reading offerings as long as the material meets the standards–at least that’s what we are doing in our district.
In fact, to be fair, much of the past English reading/language curriculums dwelt heavily on fiction selections. As in most paradigm shifts, we are now swinging towards the other direction. Non-fiction is now going to be more in the spotlight as a result. It will all balance out, but give a couple of years at least. After all, skirts have risen and fallen with the times, and so shall reading content in the classroom.