Common Core Picks Factual Essays Over Shakespeare

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M. Rogers

Many fiction books are available for students in the Miramonte library.

Meghan Rogers, Opinion Editor

The new Common Core regiment beginning this year has both teachers and students mystified and apprehensive. Will teachers have to make up entirely new lesson plans for the year? Is the education system turning Orwellian before our eyes?
On the contrary, most aspects of school-life will not be altered, but one facet of the changes has English teachers in a frenzy. Common Core declares that all 12th grade reading be changed to 70 percent nonfiction. Common Core has attempted to calm panicked book nerds by pointing out that the 70 percent nonfiction is intended to be spread out among all courses and fields, not just English. However, does this mean that Biology students will suddenly be reading a lot more factual essays, and moving textbook work and labs to the side? This seems unlikely, and the only course that seems to have room for this reading shift is the class that is focused on reading to begin with – English.
The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers say that American students are not properly prepared for college or future careers because they spend too much time reading “easy” books. Apparently, Shakespearian text is now defined as simple. However, fictional literature is considerably more complex than nonfiction, because it requires a thoughtful approach and a figurative interpretation. Nonfiction certainly has its merits and has changed the world, but the “answer” is frequently given to students in the text. This formulaic system is already covered in sciences and math, and does not need to be incorporated into English.
Works of fiction have the power to inspire because they are relatable. On the brink of adulthood, high schoolers desperately need guidance and connections. These needs are met through works of fiction, because their characters are able to lead students through problems they didn’t necessarily have. If Catcher in the Rye is replaced with an essay on poisonous plants, the country will likely have a lot more Holden Caulfields on their hands than they intended. Never has anyone said that Properties Of Highlime Fly Ash Concrete changed their life, and have selected quotes from it as words to live by.
Most students encounter their favorite books in school required reading, and taking away that exposure limits a student’s worldliness. Without the exposure to works like Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many more, students will have little grasp of what life was like during historical periods. Though these works are fictional, they embody certain time periods to a greater extent than history class because each other offers a unique perspective.
Fictional works should never be limited from school systems because they enrich the life and knowledge of students.