The change that is causing the greatest concern for me?
Math and language arts teachers are expected to go deeper into those subjects, which means that educators may not cover as many topics. There will be a greater emphasis on informational texts, rather than literature; texts will be more complex; and literacy will be emphasized in all classes, even physical education. (Emphasis mine)I will never forget Mrs. Bayer, my freshman English teacher, introducing me and my classmates to Poe’s, Tell Tale Heart, I can still hear her as she read the story to us, adding in the sound of the heartbeat as she read with the words with a thump, thump.
“No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice,” Thump, thump. “Yet the sound increased --and what could I do?” Thump, thump, “It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.” Thump, thump, “I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not.” Thump, thump, “I talked more quickly --more vehemently;” Thump, thump, “ but the noise steadily increased.” Thump, thump, “I arose and argued about trifles,” Thump, thump, “in a high key and with violent gesticulations;” Thump, thump, “but the noise steadily increased.” Thump, thump.As she read she kept adding more, Thump, thumps, to the tale at a faster and faster pace…an entire class of fourteen year olds paying close attention to her every word. From that point on I went and purchased all of Poe’s works…who will introduce my son to Poe?
My sophomore year Mrs. Burdick, a teacher that my friends and I tormented, introduced us to Vonnegut through his short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House, I had never read stories like his before – tales that expanded my thinking from that of child to the thinking of a young adult. Mrs. Burdick had just introduced me to my favorite author. I actually kept that copy of Welcome to the Monkey House. It has traveled the world with me; I still have it to this day. I have gone through multiple copies of every Vonnegut novel and published short story collection (Except Timequake…I guess every great author has a turd now and then). Who will introduce my son to Vonnegut?
My junior year found me in Mr. Piddington’s advanced reading comprehension class where I was introduced to Hemingway. To this day, A Farewell to Arms, is one of my favorite books. Hemingway’s writing style was so crisp and clean without a single unnecessary word – it was unlike anything I had ever read up to that point. Who will introduce my son to Hemingway?
My senior year in high school I had only one required course, a course aptly named Decision Making. Mr. Shands taught about Descartes, Plato, Socrates, and others. He did not teach from an informational text. He made us read the writings of these philosophers and then made us explain what the meanings of their philosophies were. There were no multiple choice exams or quizzes. You had to stand in front of the class and defend your argument of what your interpretation was. Who will do that for my son?
No child left behind and its standards will not teach my son about great literature or philosophies, no "informational text" will provide my son or any other student the tools they need to become independent critical thinkers. How can one understand the anti-war themes in Slaughterhouse five, or how can you appreciate Poe unless you actually read these works?
It will be up to me to introduce my son to these authors and philosophers; however, coming from a parent I am not sure that he will be as receptive to them as I was in getting them from a teacher. I am not sure I can teach him the nuances behind each book as my teachers did for me. My son’s teachers, instead of being able to teach my son to think, as my teachers did, will teach him how to take tests. I am sure they would rather teach him to think.
(As a side note, Mrs. Bayer also introduced me to Orwell...but the Poe story was better).