Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You Don't Have to Wonder

In case you're wondering what our new national standards for math and English will look like, the best guess is the American Diploma Project Benchmarks. Either that or whatever comes out of Arne Duncan's ass.

I don't have time for a long analysis, but the approach they're taking is doomed to artlessness. If you start by defining the product/output of the system as either someone prepared for more education, or ready to be trained as an electrician or nurse, then art and literature are pretty much irrelevant, except for training people to produce the expected written academic analyses, and it isn't clear you should even require that, since not only does the electrician not need to do it, I'd argue that people need it less in college than you think (e.g., I studied English at three of the top universities in the world, and I can't recall needing "...knowledge of 18th and 19th century foundational works of American literature," I still lack that, and I don't seem to need it yet).

1 comment:

Claus von Zastrow said...

The good news (at least, to my mind) is that many of the people in the business community who supported the American Diploma Project seemed to support the value of literary study or the arts for people who weren't going in to literature or the arts. They did not take a narrowly vocational view.

Surely 18th- and 19th-century American literature has value, even for those who go on to other things...

(Full disclosure: I worked on the American Diploma Project back in 2002).