theories on the value of literature




These two articles talk about how the “Shifts in ELA/Litearcy” initiated by the Common Core Standards will require that teachers spend less time on “esoteric literary terms” and more time on “pivotal and commonly found words … such as “discourse,” “generation,” “theory,” and “principles.” As we discussed in class when we were learning the standards of the Massachusetts framework for English/Language Arts curriculum, the new standards call for more “informational texts” (70% of the curriculum) rather than fictional texts. In other words, the new standards are discouraging the teaching of literature, the love of which, ironically, is what inspired many English teachers to choose their profession in the first place. 

 I think this article is interesting in light of what we have been reading in Peter Elbow’s book “What is English?” about theory. While these articles don’t mention literary theory, the new standards do endorse a explicit educational theory that literature is not of very high value and is not worth studying. Presumably, this is because the study of literature does not teach students skills that are directly translated to real life or the work force. However, both articles were written by teachers who express dismay at these new “rules.”
 As we are starting our first day of reading Hunger Games, I’m starting to see why incorporating texts such as these might be important in English classrooms. If we can’t teach literature in the classroom, then we need to focus on making our students enjoy fictional literature on their own. Twilight…oops, I mean, Hunger Games … as a highly engrossing piece of popular literature, is perfect for this aim.

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One response to “theories on the value of literature

  1. huyhoa87

    Haha I like the Twilight reference. I agree that we should find ways to make “literature” more enjoyable for the students and pop-culture books such as these are great, but what about the “classics?” In the academic literacy world, there are tons of references to various “classics,” I think the classics will still be an important part of the curriculum. Like how we teach “standard” English, these classics are a common point of reference in the academic world. I believe pop-culture novels should be taught as rejuvenation tactic, placed at a certain point where we feel students are losing interests.

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