To say that I am a voracious reader is to understate my addiction. I read at least a whole novel (mostly thrillers/mysteries) every week, and I also study a number of books over periods of time.
Among the latter, I’m currently working my way through Carlos Eire’s Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, and Huntington Cairns’s The Limits of Art: A Critic’s Anthology of Western Literature (the Best that Has Been Written and Said).
This is not light reading.
It is, however, the kind of reading I have enjoyed since very early in my life.
I am a firm believer on the benefits of a well-rounded, academically-rigorous education. You can imagine my dismay when a friend sent this article by Jane Robbins:
School Daze. Inferior Reading Standards Lead to Inferior Readers
According to Common Core, soft-core porn is preferable to Jane Austen.
The Common Core structure not only diminishes the amount of literary study in ELA classrooms, its recommendations for what types of fiction should be read are weighted against the classics. The Common Core list of recommended texts for ELA classrooms eliminates (except for minimal Shakespeare) British literature. No Austen, no Dickens, no Stevenson. In place of great British novels it suggests soft-core pornography such as The Bluest Eye.
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.
How about studying Pecola Breedlove side-by-side with Elizabeth Bennet? Would it be sacrilege to suggest that, without Jane Austen, Tony Morrison may not have happened?
Or is that too much work because it’s not as easy to fit into a narrative?
Of course, that assumes the people designing the curriculum have functioning brain cells, and are not this stupid:
Via WeaselZippers, science! has discovered that words, not just some words, but words in general, indeed, the very concept of “words”, are responsible for the oppression of women.
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain, who claimed, among other things:
“Literacy has promoted the subjugation of women by men throughout all but the very recent history of the West…Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word.”
Teh stupid, it burns!
First off, hasn’t the idea of some sort of primeval feminist paradise, a matriarchal golden age of Goddess worship and universal peace shown to be a complete load of hooey? Second, if the literate word is so oppressive to women, then why do women dominate the writing and publishing industries? Schlain hedges his sweeping statement with the qualifier “…all but the very recent history of the West”, but if the oppression is so pervasive, there is no adequate explanation for why it should suddenly be different now. I think that Schlain has managed to get things precisely backwards: the truth is that literacy has actually *empowered* women and liberated them, because facility with words does not depend upon physical strength or agility, which favors males.
When my son (who is an avid reader) was growing up, I followed the guidelines in The Educated Child: A Parents Guide From Preschool Through Eighth Grade. I suggest you do, too; You can not leave your child’s education to the whims of the public school system.
Slightly off-topic, the Robbins article has a photo from this scene in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility:
That’s the late Alan Rickman reading
“For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”
from Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queen.
Chew on that, Common Core.