Common Core reduces the reading of classics in English classes so students will spend more time reading “factual material”. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be reading in science and history classes? Here are five good reasons to keep reading the classics in school:
- They develop critical thinking skills, i.e., how to think, not just what to think. When students have to struggle with “Hamlet” it’s good for their developing brains. Students also learn that “classic” doesn’t have to mean boring. “Moby Dick” is an adventure tale, “Macbeth” is as gruesome as a modern vampire story, and “Wuthering Heights” is a dramatic romance novel. Young people won’t learn much about life on a sailing ship by watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” but they can read a first-hand account in Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast”. There’s something for everyone.
- Through these books students learn how authors of the past dealt with many of the same problems people face today, and how attitudes have changed. They provide opportunities for assignments on comparisons of different works.
- Students learn history while learning about the authors. How did the authors live in classical Greece, Elizabethan England, or pre-revolutionary Russia? The stories themselves yield insight as to what life was like at the time. Mark Twain’s books have been criticized as racist but that’s how society was during his life. Denying the past doesn’t change it, it just makes people unable to understand the present.
- The classics can stimulate imagination and imagination is part of a healthy childhood. Imagination also stimulates creativity and creativity has been the foundation of US advancement in fields like technology.
- The classics provide a link to our past, our culture, and our heritage. Progressives like to deny that the USA has a unique cultural heritage, but it does. Extremists throughout the ages have burned books in an effort to erase the past and we’re seeing it happen even today in the Mideast. While the classics can’t be erased by burning they can be marginalized by dismissal.
As for that “factual material”, who determines what it is? If students are reading about how the Large Hadron Collider is used to research elementary particles they’re studying factual material that belongs in physics class. If they’re reading about “white privilege” they’re reading a leftist theory about why the world is so “unfair”. Indoctrination is not education. Some of the new material isn’t factual at all, it’s fiction, specifically science fiction. Schools intend to add reading science fiction novels related to climate change, a genre named “cli-fi”. This doesn’t teach kids meteorology or Earth Science, it prepares them to vote for progressive Democrats as soon as they’re old enough to vote.
Common Core is designed to transform schools so that they will turn out obedient workers. That’s how school works in China, where students learn to be productive workers but to always think “inside the box”. So where’s the creativity? They may make various Apple products but those products were conceived and designed by creative people here in the USA. An immigrant from China recently remarked that Common Core looks a lot like the Chinese school system. If you think that J.S. Mill’s warning about public schools is old fashioned you might want to heed the words of this present day immigrant. Common Core is one more step to subordinating the individual to the collective, that’s all.
Assignment 1: Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare. If you haven’t read his “Doctor Faustus”, do so.