The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: The Great Purge of Literature
Replies: 12   Last Post: Jan 9, 2013 10:46 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: The Great Purge of Literature
Posted: Jan 7, 2013 2:56 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply
att1.html (8.1 K)

On Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 9:44 PM, Anna Roys <> wrote:

> Hi!
> I do mourn the loss of the focus on classical literature with the Common
> Core Standards impacting students nationwide. I think classical
> literature helps to change students thinking dispositions when they read,
> analyze and think deeply about it - growing better thinkers is important.

No worries. Much that's in literature has informational aspects, and some
of what's informational is written in a literary manner. Books by Farley
Mowat for example, one of the great North American writers.

The travelogue tended to be an adventure story laced with new findings,
perhaps pictures. Darwin fits into this category, as does Wilhelm Heinrich
Alexander von Humboldt.

If the adventurer were well endowed he maybe even brought back zoo
specimens. Tarantulas.

The lecture could be a public spectacle in that case, with listeners
invited to buy the book. One lecturer in this tradition was Haeckel, the
great drawer of things micro: (photo
of Jena lecture setup)
(caption) (book
cover: collection of drawings)

Haeckel showed the world a frequency band (size range) in phenomena they'd
little suspected, a truly Platonic Realm in terms of the polyhedrons it
contained, pulsating and alive, or maybe not alive depending on the writing
and assumptions

Some think of viruses as more like walking dead, little computers, with
coats of 12, 42, 92, 162... proteins (capsomeres).[1]

This was all pre TV of course. We still have public lectures today, with
Portland's ISEPP ( an organizer of same.

My point is the range of literature is vast enough that we'll be able to
phase in informational writing that's still quite literary, plus maybe
boost the literary quality of some technical writing. Lewis Thomas's 'Life
of the Cell' is a case in point. We'll now have an excuse to boost
Literature within STEM (because it's less purely fictional). We'll have
occasion to explain how the World Wide Web came not from Bible scholars,
writing their concordances, not from Talmud commentators, but from CERN and
the literature of particle physics. We'll read about bosons more, and
fermions. Thank you Common Core.

> I am thankful to be employed at a public charter school where I as a
> teacher, I can select my own curriculum and literature under state charter
> school laws. Yes, when our district and state adopts the Common Core
> Standards, then we have to meet or exceed them. However, as a charter
> school we can select literature to help students exceed the Common Core
> Standards and are not forced to stay with the Common Core literature lists.

We help our students develop taste, understanding people are born with
tastes. This isn't a Tabla Rasa philosophy, on my end. If reincarnation
weren't true it might be necessary to invent it, to paraphrase Pascal,
given how precocious little kids are sometime, little wise guys, almost

> I do understand the "why" on the informational text focus, as I see many
> students that are seriously struggling in some STEM courses because the
> cannot read and understand the subject matter very well, when delivered
> in text only form.
> I also think it is unfair that under No Child Left Behind assessments for
> reading and writing make up 2/3 of the content knowledge being assessed,
> yet we as English teachers, only have one hour per day with students to
> accomplish this, whereas, Math usually gets the same time per week and
> only represents 1/3 of the assessed content under NCLB.

I'm glad to learn NCLB is still alive and kicking. I was somewhat
concerned that after May 21, 2011, we would feel too Left Behind to want to
shoot for the "no child" target any more (that's an allusion to North
American folk beliefs, perhaps spreading into Alaska).

> I am still lurking around this list, reading and not posting because I
> seriously do not have the time to allot to it.
> Happy New Year - maybe I will have more time in this new year to share my
> thoughts and questions about what is written on this list. Thank you for
> sharing.
> Be well... Anna

Developing tastes means sampling the literature, the arts, including the
visual arts, and architecture. There's plenty that's informational in
architecture, yet literary as well. The micro-architecture of the virus
takes use from "geography" (spatio-temporal events, RNA, DNA) to "geometry"
(the Platonic Realm).[3]

Yes, Happy New Year.


[1] this is a permanent fixture in the STEM lit, informational,
mathematical and interesting literature. You can bet I've already plotted
a course for Synergetics in this regard.

In lit class we'll pick out some juicy parts, as we study what happened to
Transcendentalism (hint: follow The Dial on through Dial Press to 'Report
on Iron Mountain' (one of our NCLB readings, in the Guinness Book of World
Records as most successful hoax (ironic)).

[2] mom gets in trouble in WILPF meetings if using "guys" in the unisex
tense, as my grandma Esther -- Swedish -- also did. Ava Helen Pauling was
in WILPF, Linus too maybe (talking about ISEPP again, where you've visited).

Platonic Realm)

Note: one way they try to build immunity against virus X in plants it
preys upon is they inject the gene for X's "coat" into the DNA of the cash
crop. This has been done with tobacco, potatoes and papaya. Such defenses
can be undermined though. There's more to this "RNA silencing" story.
Great reading for home scholars, other high scholars (in school or not).

The nexus of food, diet, environment is one that's easy to tune in as
relevant given kids are experimenting, establishing characteristic eating
habits and preferences. If environmental factors have made some diets more
risky, or if some diets are changing environmental factors for the worse,
that's interesting lit. Math has mostly banned relevance as "rainforest
math" (no fair talking about "the lungs of the Earth" in math class) but in
literature we now have a Common Core mandate to reclaim STEM. National
Geographic has always had some good writing.

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.