Sunday, April 21, 2013

Input, Please?

Louisiana will fully implement the Common Core State Standards next school year.  As a core class teacher (English II and IV) I've been doing a lot of reading, both pro and con, about the new Common Core standards.

Whether I like them or not, it's my job to fully implement them to the best of my ability.  Therefore, I'm asking for input here.

Look over the recommended novels list below for tenth graders and tell me your initial reaction and please offer any feedback or input if you've got an opinion about any of these works recommended for tenth grade readers:


English II
·         The House of Spirits- Allende
·         The Underdogs-Azuela
·         The Book of Lamentations- Castellanos
·         Like Water for Chocolate- Fuentes
·         One Hundred Years of Solitude- Marquez
·         The Seagull- Chekhov
·         The Inspector-General- Gogol
·         “Master Harold” and the Boys- Fugard
·         The Imposter- Usigli
·         Death and the King’s Horseman- Soyinka
·         King Baabu- Soyinka
·         The Lion and the Jewel- Soyinka
·         Family- Pa Jin
·         Midnight’s Children- Rushdie
·         In Custody- Desai
·         Nectar in a Sieve- Markandaya
·         The God of Small Things- Roy
·         The Sound of Waves- Mishima
·         After Dark- Murakami
·         My Name is Red- Pamuk
·         Things Fall Apart- Achebe
·         The Joys of Motherhood- Emecheta
·         Cry, The Beloved Country- Paton
·         Waiting for Barbarians or Life and Times of Michael K- Coetzee
·         The Thief and the Dogs- Mahfouz
·         So Long a Letter- Ba
·         Martha Quest- Lessing
·         Beirut Blues- al-Shaykh
·         The River Between- Thiong’o
·         The Death of Ivan Ilyich- Tolstoy
·         One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich- Solzhenitsyn
·         A Dead Man’s Memoir- Bulgakov


I'm withholding my comments for now.



Further Reading on Common Core:

Sarah Palin Was a Prophet About Obama's Education Takeover
The Road to a National Curriculum
How Well are American Students Learning?
National Curriculum Plan May Face Challenge
Conservatives Oppose National Standards
School Standards Pushback
Common Core Standards
Obama Team Hijacks Schools' Core Standards
National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to Common Core Standards
"Are You Serious?"  Yep, They Are
Michelle Malkin:  Rotten to the Core Part III
Michelle Malkin:  Rotten to the Core Part I
Michelle Malkin:  Rotten to the Core Part II
Michelle Malkin:  Rotten to the Core Part IV
Louisiana Educator:  Why Common Core Will Be a Disaster...

16 comments:

yukio ngaby said...


"The Sound of Waves" by Mishima is a great book. It probably helps a great deal if the reader understands Japanese culture, esp. the major changes that came following WWII. It's one of Mishima's more simple novels, but it seems a little bit advanced for 10th graders if you ask me.

Gogol's kinda hard to get a grasp on w/o exposure to Russian literature, especially his bizarre surrealism. "The Inspector General" I believe is a play that satirizes Czarist Russia's political bureaucracy. I liked it, but I read it back in college.

"The Imposter" by Roldolfo Usigli is a rather obscure Mexican play from the late 1930s early 1940s I think. It was something about the Mexican Revolution. I don't remember much about it, but it's been 15+ years since I read it.

"The Family" by Pa Jin (sometimes Ba Jin) was written by a Socialist anarchist whose real name was Li Yaotang, and it's pretty much what you'd expect after knowing that. I could never finish it. It was pretty much a criticism of traditional Chinese values with Marxist beliefs presented as the progressive new way.

Murakami is an odd and controversial writer in Japan. I haven't read "After Dark" but it's on my reading list. It's a fairly recent book. Murakami's work can be very challenging, and generally deals with alienation and depression. "Tony Takitani" was a great story and made into a very moving but somber film.

"The Joys of Motherhood" by Buchi Emecheta is a pretty complicated work. I liked it and I don't recall it having any major political slant other than critisizing the traditional value of women in Nigerian society (having kids and being a mother).

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is an African Marxist from Kenya. I never read "The River Between" and don't know much about it, but his works are generally saturated with his Marxist views.

Ba's "So Long a Letter" is another book critical of West Africa's treatment of women-- this one in Senegal, I believe. I read it a long time ago, and I don't remember much about it except that's written as a letter ( I think).

The other African works I haven't read. "Things Fall Apart" is very famous, but I never got around to reading it.

Hope this helps some.

Pat Austin said...

Thank you do much, Yukio!

You can't begin to know how much I appreciate your input. I've never read any of these; guess I'm not as well read as I thought.

Pat Austin said...

*so

Tina said...

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" - I think I read this in High School, which would have been in 1974, when Solzhenitsyn first became a household name in the US, and before the intelligencia figured out he was a Christian, and a fan of traditional American values. Although fictionalized, this is a powerful historical story, as Solzhenitsyn served time himself in that same prison, and the account is both genuine and curiously hopeful - especially since you can show students that eventually the gulag system fell, and truth & freedom finally overcame oppression. Good chance to fit in some genuine history of the post-revolutionary USSR (including why the US was so fearful of communism & of Russia).

One Hundred Years of Solitude. LOL I hate this book!!! Actually I love most of this book - the whole magical realism genre reflects a lot of truths within the old, superstitious/Christian pragmatic/humorist Hispanic culture, often in endearing ways. But I would have been a lot happier if Garcia Marquez had not completed the book. I would never lend it to anyone without first ripping out the last 30 pages! And that would be my advice for 10th graders. :-D

I hope this helps! :-)

MikeAT said...

Pat,

I'm assuming you need fiction only and the list seems to be missing some classics. i don't know of these are too late for high school, but the collective works of Shakespeare and Sir Author Conan Doyle come to mind.

edutcher said...

Where's "Hamlet"?

Mark Twain, Dickens, Steinbeck?

Looks like the usual multi-culti diversity stuff fed to the Tsaernevs.

We know where that led?

Traditional Tibby said...

10th grade English huh? Any of those written by any English or American? And if so any that are more than 50 years young?

Pat Austin said...

Yeah, I'm a little concerned about the absence of the classics and any American lit., among other things.

yukio ngaby said...

@ edutcher

Seriously? I had no idea that reading books not written by Americans led to terrorist attacks.

And here I thought the problem was radical Islam and the radical Left.

I guess that if the 9/11 terrorists had read more Twain and Steinbeck (a Marxist btw), then they would've been peaceful and productive members of society.

yukio ngaby said...

@ Pat

Is English & American lit. taught at a different grade level?

I wonder if Bill Ayers... uh... I mean Obama's Dreams of My Marxist Dad is on that required reading list?

edutcher said...

yukio ngaby said...

Seriously? I had no idea that reading books not written by Americans led to terrorist attacks.

And here I thought the problem was radical Islam and the radical Left.

I guess that if the 9/11 terrorists had read more Twain and Steinbeck (a Marxist btw), then they would've been peaceful and productive members of society.


Over at another blog, someone from the Boston area noted the locals are in a tizzy over how 2 such sweet boys raised in their nurturing environment could have done such a thing.

Some of us think it may have some basis in the fact that young people aren't taught this country's culture anymore and, in many cases, are actually taught to hate it (Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, william Ayers, etc.).

Be surprised how that stuff adds up.

Look at the yoots in France.

yukio ngaby said...

@ edutcher

"Some of us think it may have some basis in the fact that young people aren't taught this country's culture anymore and, in many cases, are actually taught to hate it (Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, william Ayers, etc.).

Be surprised how that stuff adds up.

Look at the yoots in France."

Fair enough. And no, I'm not surprised at how much it adds up.

However, the problems stemming from American Marxists like Zinn, Chomsky and Ayers don't necessarily apply to foreign writers, and are not necessarily excluded from American writers.

Steinbeck was a Marxist. The "Party" that helped out the poor struggling pickers in the novel "In Dubious Battle" was the Communist Party. Most contemporary American "literature" seems to be either identity politics (mostly pushing racial separatism and white guilt), meta-fiction (which is usually of no interest to anyone), historical revisionist, or anti-capitalist.

And it seems to me that the Boston bombers were inspired more by radical Islam then by what was taught in the schools-- as useless and Left-leaning as that Boston education may be. If that education was causing terrorism, then Boston would be exploding daily.

What that education does produce is a bunch of misinformed and prejudiced occasional MSNBC watchers with the vague idea that the Left is good and the Right is a bunch of greedy racists who like to watch people suffer.

Seems to me that the political/educational fight is against the Marx inspired Left (Leftist Americans definitely included) and not against books/writers/ideas simply because they're foreign.

And just what French Yoots are you talking about? The Muslim youth in the suburbs? That problem has precious little to do with an American concept of multi-culturalism.

Traditional Tibby said...

@ yukio ngaby - it's 10th grade English. While I find nothing at all wrong with including translated foreign authors, I'm hard pressed to see how leaving out American and English authors furthers their understanding of English.

yukio ngaby said...

@ Traditional Tibby

I have no idea what kind of class this is, but it appears to be a world/foreign literature class based on the reading list.

There's plenty of red-blooded American writers who can push identity politics/Marxism/radical feminist theory and other grievance based agendas that the Left loves. And since none of these American writers are included on the list, I would guess that oversight is not unintended.

Pat Austin said...

It is an exemplar reading list for tenth grade English from the Common Core assessment folks.

Anonymous said...

tI've read thousands of books, but none of these. They sound horrifically boring for tenth graders. No wonder kids quit school.