Saturday, December 08, 2012

From books to breasts

Or the lack thereof... Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum
Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of 'informational texts'. American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014. A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace. Books such as JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by "informational texts" approved by the Common Core State Standards. Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council. The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Monsanto in India.

A pale blue dot:

Detroit, then and now.

Early onset breast cancer survivors.  (NSFW) Showing the faces and bodies of those who have dealt with the disease.

Update:  Solar Electric Light Fund.
SELF's mission is to design and implement solar energy solutions to assist the 1.5 billion people living in energy poverty with their economic, educational, health care and agricultural development. Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 20 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rainforest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.


Marcellina said...

I may be alone in my opinion but: I did read Catcher in the Rye in school, and was not impressed at the time. It could simply be that I was too young to appreciate it, but the whole story line was so foreign and cryptic to me (I was a nice, timid rural kid) that I couldn't follow it.I also found it dated then (this was the late 70s.
It is possible that the book, even while being hailed as a great work, does not give teenagers today what they need. I don't know. I tend to associate it with baby boomers.

Steve Bates said...

"Informational texts..." informational about everything except the human condition.

I can't help thinking this is another attempt to kill the public schools outright. The hostility among the fundamentalist Right began (in my community) 40 or 50 years ago, and never let up. The question is, with what does society replace the public schools?

Some of my business colleagues home-schooled their kids.Most people of ordinary means have neither time nor teaching skills to pursue home-schooling. And one thing I observed about this group of home-schoolers: every pupil was the same. Does one really gain by going to school among people with identical religious beliefs, socioeconomic levels, race, etc.? I think not. One's ability to integrate into society is imperiled. Just what we need... more kids socially isolated from the community.

I don't know who thinks eliminating literary classics from the curriculum is a good idea, but if they were present, the two uf us would have, um, a lively discussion...

Ole Phat Stu said...

Textbooks (e.g. in physics) written as recently as 20 years ago might now be categorised as fiction :-(

Newer books contain physics not even theorised a few decades ago. Higgs boson, quantum-loop gravity, string theory : to name but three examples...

ellroon said...

Marcellina, I finally read Catcher in the Rye, having missed it in high school. I read it to see why it was always on the list of books to be censored. It speaks to those (teenager males) who feel disconnected from society. There was some (very mild) allusions to sex, but Holden does question God which I bet is the real reason. It's like Ann Frank's diary, Catcher in the Rye is a book for certain stages of teen development.

Steve, no matter how well taught homeschooled kids are, they will miss out on so much. There are a lot of negatives with public schooling as well, but interactive parents can help alleviate a lot of them. Luckily our school district is really good and being a college town, has lots of very invested parents.

One way to fight the lost of the classics is to have them at home.

Ole Phat Stu, I've saved some family textbooks just because they are so wrong.. 1890 geography, pre-continental drift geology. Science will do that wonderfully, change with newly discovered facts.