2nd December, 2012

Common Core and The Author

  • Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
  • Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).
  • Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
  • Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
The following are from grades 9-12 CCC/ELA literature standards.  I have great difficulty with these standards from a theoretical standpoint.  They are presented as if there is a “right” answer, as if we can call up the author to give readers the correct answer for our multiple choice test.  
Common Core places far too much emphasis on authorial intent, and that is flawed when most of the secondary canon is Dead White Guys whom we can’t poke for answers.  
Only one standard addresses interpretation:
  • Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
But even that isn’t asking for the STUDENT’S interpretation.  It’s asking for other people’s interpretation, with no springboard forward into the “Now, why does this matter?” pool.  
Common Core does nothing but emphasize the student’s relationship with the text doesn’t matter.  It makes them passive readers and makes them feel as though their opinions don’t matter because they aren’t the Right Answer.
As much as I loathed New Criticism for its strict adherence to The Text Stands Alone, at least that is preferable than this idea that we can construct authorial intent out of thin air.  


  1. neurotrophins reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    re the bolded part: FINALLY someone confirms what most kids who have ever sat through a high school English class have...
  2. starkili reblogged this from knight-to-h3
  3. adventuringasnotagrownup reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  4. gearupwa reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    Presented without commentary but hoping for responses.
  5. miss-baich reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  6. christophsouza reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    I hadn’t considered this issue with the Common Core before. I will have to take a look and see how much focus is given...
  7. kaitlyneva reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  8. awildellethappears reblogged this from powerofstudentvoice
  9. powerofstudentvoice reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    more on GWALP’s discussion about Common Core, academia and “The Right Answer.”
  10. verbal-ironyyy reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  11. sewonandsewforth reblogged this from confessionsofatvholic
  12. knight-to-h3 reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    A thing that is immensely frustrating to me
  13. confessionsofatvholic reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    Yay GWALP! I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who agreed with GWALP my freshman year of high school. If we...
  14. girlwithalessonplan reblogged this from everyfiredies and added:
    Having quite recently graduated from grad school with a degree in English, this ISN’T a more “academic way.” It’s too...
  15. everyfiredies reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    I hadn’t thought about this, but I agree with GWALP. It reminds me of John Green’s lecture-esque talk on the TFIOS book...
  16. reluctantmidwesterner reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan and added:
    This is basically the exact opposite of how I’d want to teach if I was teaching literature right now…
  17. teachingtoday said: The Common Core does not care about student connections or relationships to text. It is all a fact-finding mission as opposed to a search for meaning.
  18. jordan-white reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  19. thecursedpencilsharpener reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan