On Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 9:44 PM, Anna Roys <roys.anna@gmail.com> wrote:
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:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/4229063377/in/photostream/  (photo of Jena lecture setup)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/4229063119/in/photostream/  (caption)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/4229064293/in/photostream/  (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 (isepp.org) 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 literally.[2]
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).

[3]  http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/4229834242/in/photostream/ (the 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.