Date: Jan 7, 2013 12:20 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: The Great Purge of Literature
Responding to Haim's post dated Jan 5, 2013 10:19 AM (pasted below my signature, as ready reference):
December 16/17, 2012, there was a horrific gang-rape and assault by 5 monsters on a girl and her friend who had boarded a bus to get home after taking in an evening movie.
There has been a HUGE upsurge of indignation all over India after this incident, with young people (and others) coming out into the streets in most cities in protest that started out peacefully against:
- -- the cultural mindset that leads some Indian men to this kind of behaviour;
- -- the general apathy and nonchalance of the police (and other authorities) in registering and then investigating complaints made by women/their families about 'eve-teasing', abuse and molestation by men, rape, and the like;
- -- the systemic faults in our Indian society that lead to a serious lack of security and safety for Indian women both at home and in our public spaces.
A large number of fault lines in Indian society have become exposed as a result of this horrific incident and its aftermath:
- -- The Indian government and the police in Delhi unleashed a torrent of repression against the protestors (who started out peacefully).
- -- Some leaders (from across the political spectrum) go so far as to claim that it is the women who bring such 'retribution' upon themselves by their dress; by their independent behaviour; by going out to work when they should be staying at home looking after their men; by reason of the 'loose' western culture and values adopted by many of our younger generation in cities (and even in some rural areas); by demanding all the freedoms offered Indian citizens by our Constitution; etc, etc etc.
Reminds me quite a bit of Haim and his cohorts and consorts who want, as response to some perceived deficiencies in the US educational systems, to "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!"
Haim had, in fact, somewhere or the other in this forum, drawn our attention to that rape incident in India - possibly in support of his untenable arguments on US public school education - or, more probably, as an imagined riposte to the unwavering position the undersigned takes on educational and other societal issues. (My position is simply that we need to learn to do better, MUCH better, in and with our systems).
Now. here, he foolishly accuses the 'Education Mafia' of "purging literature" - instead of going out there to take real steps to bring about more effective education systems in the US: including the issue of the kind of readings offered up in schools and colleges to young students there.
I'm certain Peter Ustinov - wonderful and even wise humorist that he often was - would have been able to draw some useful and very pointed lessons from this kind of behavior that we see all too often in society. An even better social comment might have come from 'your' Will Rogers:
"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves".
(Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/will_rogers.html#eCk1MU3R93Wu9eW6.99 )
("Still Shoveling Away!")
Haim posted Jan 5, 2013 10:19 AM:
> I am reminded of the great Peter Ustinoff. In his
> movie, "Romanoff and Juliet"
> one of the characters, a Russian girl, is seen always
> reading, as literature, production tables of ores and
> factory goods, and agricultural produce, etc. Of
> course, Ustinov thought he was making a joke. How
> could he know his own prescience?
> Why all the cool kids are reading Executive Order
> By Lindsey M. Burke
> Published December 27, 2012
> A war of words is brewing. But this one doesn?t
> involve slinging insults. It?s a battle over what
> forms of writing ? novels, poems, and non-fiction ?
> will define English instruction for millions of
> American schoolchildren in the years to come.
> Sparking this war is the Common Core standards push ?
> an effort to nationalize the standards and
> assessments upon which every public school in America
> would base its curriculum. The Obama administration
> has poured billions of dollars into the effort via
> federal ?Race to the Top? grants.
> As always when it comes to federal largesse, there
> are strings attached. And in this case, it?s pulling
> the rug out from under classic literature.
> Literacy experts point out that The Common Core
> denigrates the value of teaching literature in the
> classroom. Instead, English teachers are being told
> that 50 percent of their course material must be
> derived from ?informational texts.? (Actually, the
> informational text requirement starts at a ?mere? 25
> percent of reading material for kindergarteners. It
> rises to 70 percent for high school seniors.)
> What, exactly, meets the definition of informational
> texts? Among those recommended on the national
> standards list we find The Federal Reserve Bank?s
> ?FedViews,? ?The Evolution of the Grocery Bag,? and
> ?Health Care Costs in McAllen, Texas.? And, roll over
> ?For Whom the Bell Tolls? it?s time to make way for
> that GSA classic: ?Executive Order 13423:
> Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and
> Transportation Management.?
> Thus is the literary genius of Washington bureaucrats
> elevated over that of Hugo, Heller, and Huxley.
> Eschewing great literature for ghastly technical
> reports doesn?t make much sense to those charged with
> getting young people to read?hopefully with some
> degree of enthusiasm. And there?s a total lack of
> research suggesting that education will be advanced
> by a forced march to Executive Orders.
> The University of Arkansas? Sandra Stotsky argues
> that an emphasis on informational texts actually
> prevents children from acquiring ?a rich
> understanding and use of the English language? and
> ?may lead to a decreased capacity for analytical
> thinking.? Dry government documents such as those
> recommended in the Common Core?s are ?hardly the kind
> of material to exhibit ambiguity, subtlety, and
> irony,? she observes.
> Fiction authors try to describe phenomena in a way
> they haven?t been described before. They use
> figurative expression to convey abstract ideas. These
> are writers who create art and expression in a way
> that tackles difficult philosophical questions in a
> palpable format; in a way that gets to the root of
> all things. This is the kind of reflection that
> trains citizens capable of self-government.
> Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, J.D. Salinger,
> Washington Irving, Edith Wharton, James Joyce,
> Sinclair Lewis ? all achieved that complex goal. And
> all are absent from the Common Core list.
> Granted, the list is a list of suggested material.
> But the requirement for teachers to derive more than
> half their assigned reading from informational texts
> is no mere suggestion. States have signed Memoranda
> of Understanding with the U.S. Department of
> Education agreeing to meet the requirement.
> Inevitably, teachers will have to jettison great
> literary works to ensure children consume the
> government?s minimum daily dose of executive orders.
> No wonder columnist Alexandra Petri refers to the
> Common Core as ?the great Purge of Literature.?
> ?Words in regulations and manuals,? she writes, ?are
> words mangled and tortured and bent into unnatural
> positions, and the later you have to discover such
> cruelty, the better.? Indeed.
> If the central planners make mistakes with Common
> Core, Dr. Jay Greene argues, they impose those
> mistakes on the entire nation?and such mistakes will
> be nearly impossible to correct. But the arguments
> over literature make it clear that even if we could
> correct mistakes, widespread, national consensus
> about what should be taught in every school in
> America will remain elusive.
> More importantly, those decisions will be far removed
> from teachers and parents ? the people who should
> have the most say in what children are taught.
> The good news is: states can end this war of words.
> Instead of abdicating responsibility for standards
> and assessments?and ceding more control over
> education to Washington and national
> organizations?state leaders can extricate their
> teachers and students from this national standards
> States and local school districts can have success
> improving their standards and assessments without
> surrendering control to Washington. At the same time,
> they should work to increase transparency about
> school outcomes to parents (for example, implementing
> a straightforward A-F grading scale for schools),
> provide flexibility for local school leaders, and
> advance systemic reforms that include school choice
> options for families. Those reforms will go a long
> way in improving academic outcomes while at the same
> time preserving local control of education.
> But if states stay on the Common Core bandwagon, say
> goodbye to ?1984,? ?Animal Farm? and ?Brave New
> World.? No need for kids to be reading those books,
> anyway. They?ll be living them.
Message was edited by: GS Chandy