- Paperback: 164 pages
- Publisher: R&L Education; 1 edition (June 14, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610485580
- ISBN-13: 978-1610485586
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,605,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum: What Secondary English Teachers Can Do 1st Edition
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The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum is a timely and measured study of a problem that only seems to get worse. Reading scores for high school students are flat since the early 1970s and down since the early 1990s. Writing scores are also down in recent years. Remediation classes in college are packed. Stotsky explains why. It's not because of budget cuts, or a rising multi-ethnic student population, or too much text-based accountability. It's because of certain ideas and attitudes that came forward in the 1960s and prevailed in the highest centers of professional power and influence in education—in English departments in our colleges and universities and in English education and reading departments in schools of education. Using abundant historical material, Stotsky recounts a troubling tale of the abandonment of our national literary heritage, the substitution of sentimental aims for academic aims, and the intimidation of people who raised doubts about those changes as they happened. She also finds some hope in the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Her final chapters chart a path toward restoration of a coherent and demanding literature curriculum in our public schools, and support for those secondary English teachers who are confident of its content and eager to produce more knowledgeable and skilled graduates. This study should be on the syllabus of every English education course in the country. (Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future)
This book does more than trace the demise of the coherent and demanding literature curriculum I was fortunate enough to have had when I was in high school. It also shows secondary English teachers how to reconstruct a curriculum for literary study that will enable a very different generation of students to understand the rhetoric of the most active civic culture in the world. During the 12 years I served in the Massachusetts Senate, seven of which as Senate President, and as a co-author of the Education Reform Act of 1993, most of my constituents could not have known how much I benefited from three years of graduate studies in English Language and Literature at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. But I know the difference it made to my political and legal career. After decades of national tests emphasizing content-free skills, processes, strategies, or competencies (and with possibly many more such tests to come), English teachers know that attention must be paid to the content of the literature curriculum and they need support. Sandra Stotsky's book should be on the desks of all K-12 education policy makers and education school deans. (Thomas F. Birmingham, Senior Counsel, Edwards Wildman Palmer, LLP)
The ability to read closely, and indeed the capacity to become immersed for an hour in a work of literature, is no longer to be taken for granted in students entering colleges and universities. Challenging high-school curricula, with progressively more demanding works assigned to each grade level, are the exception. As a result, those who teach college writing face the challenge of working with students starved of the nourishment that would best prepare them to achieve academic literacy. In my thirty-two years of reading placement examinations by University of California freshmen, I have seen the consequences of that diet of gruel and sweets: especially a decline in middle-level students’ abilities to thrive in higher education’s reading-rich, literacy-demanding courses of study. Sandra Stotsky’s book is a bracing, practical guide to recovering the promise of American public education, particularly its commitment to teaching and expecting genuine literacy. Here the challenge is named with urgent clarity, along with the facts, principles and strategies to address it. (John C. Briggs, Professor of English, Director of the University Writing Program, University of California, Riverside)
This powerful little book is a 'must read' for English teachers, high school principals, and college instructors now confronting the deplorable conditions of illiteracy in this country. It examines how, since World War I, American educators have embraced one literacy strategy after another and failed, ultimately, to present a high-quality, sufficiently challenging literature program to all middle and high school students. Rather than demanding that all students read a carefully designed sequence of classic and contemporary literary works, English teachers have abandoned the close analysis of texts—by word, by line, and by genre—as a fundamental aim of English. The result? An incoherent, overly politicized literature program that is neither developmentally rigorous nor informed by reading and writing experiences that build on and expand our common heritage as Americans.
Few people can speak as authoritatively as Sandra Stotsky on the causes—historical, political and pedagogical—underlying the breakdown we see in the preparedness of high school graduates to enter college able to read analytically while drawing on essential works of imaginative literature, poetry, and non-fiction. As former editor of Research in the Teaching of English, Deputy Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education, and author of numerous books and articles on reading and language, Professor Stotsky is possibly best known for her work on the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks for English Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, and History. These three frameworks are arguably one of the principal reasons why Massachusetts has, since 2005, consistently led the country on measures of achievement on the 4th and 8th examinations for mathematics and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The rigor of Massachusetts’s frameworks and the standards they hold for all students—most notably10th graders who must earn passing scores on the MCAS in order to receive a diploma—are as much a part of the 'Massachusetts miracle' as the Education Reform Act of 1993 itself.
Dr. Stotsky clearly knows her subject, and, as her record in Massachusetts shows, she has carried her ideas and recommendations into classrooms with impressive results. This thoughtful study is a no-nonsense appeal for reasonable, authentic, overdue changes in the ways we teach students to read, write, reason, and, ultimately, know the power of a good book. (Mark K. McQuillan, Dean, School of Education,Southern New Hampshire University)
About the Author
Sandra Stotsky is professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas and holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in Teacher Quality. She served as editor of Research in the Teaching of English in the 1990s and has taught at the elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level.