My district began compiling PD resources and formally thinking through #CCSS implementation for our administrators, teachers, and parents this week, so I’ve got common core on the brain.
On the whole, I think our districts’ teachers still feel rather in the dark about what Common Core changes will and won’t mean for their classrooms, but I think, in part, the action in Jeff City at DESE is to blame. Missouri is not a Race to the Top state, so there has been less funding available for the guiding the transition, so it makes sense, but disappointing nonetheless.
Locally, our Superintendent Dr. McCoy has been a vocal leader in some criticisms of common core and its effect on the creative freedoms of our students in their lit/comp classes.
— Chuck Baker (@chuckcbaker) May 22, 2013
To say creative writing and literacy for advancement and personal improvement is a focus in our district would be putting it lightly. Dr. McCoy wears his literary and creative heart on his sleeve (in an all school assembly, even), and I believe many of students see him as a positive African-American role model because of it. (And his transparency inspired me, too.)
Last word of background, my friend at another high school in the district has seen high results in engagement through creative writing opportunities for her students and shared them in our #METC13 presentation.
So here are 5 things you might start missing if you have a passion for creative, written expression.
1. The classics are de-emphasized.
Do you feel like all you ever read in high school lit class were novels, short stories, and poetry? No longer the case. Our students do need more exposure and readiness to informational text, but find me someone who was inspired to change the world after reading an unbiased account of the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies.
2. Journal writing – where does it fit in?
In Missouri Course-Level Objectives, “reflective writing” is listed across the board for all high school courses. I value reflective writing from my experience as a student and an adult, and I think it can be transformative in understanding who we are, what we think, and what we know, and what we value. How are students to find themselves if they’re only ever summarizing arguments and detailing main points and themes? Who will write the next century’s Walden Pond?
3. Creative writing is devalued
As referenced in the last point, non-fiction, technical writing has been given at least half of the emphasis in the ELA standards, which means fiction writing had to be de-emphasized. Two different Missouri CLEs (W2A and W2D) currently require students to write considering “different audiences”, and to employ “imagery, humor, voice, and figurative language.” When you’re a teenager and you feel like no one else hears you, how do you find freedom in a formal analysis of novel X, Y, or Z?
4. Less choice in composition style
Reading through the ELA standards for high school, what continuously sticks out to me is “analyze, analyze, analyze.” writing styles or works. It seems to me that if CCSS are successful they’ll have produced an army of literary critics, but who’ll be left to criticize?
5. Less time to enjoy and appreciate literature and art.
Those times when you reread a passage because there is such beauty in the alliteration, or you stop in a speech because your heart is racing. If an ELA teacher is “doing” common core right, where does that fit in? Thinking of it this way, if I’m always analyzing my wife, I never appreciate and grow fonder for her. How will we inspire the next generation to beauty and emotion in written word?
But don’t fret! I’ve got 5 Reasons Why Common Core Promotes Creativity, too.