Why I want to study To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men
Michael Gove’s attitude to American classics have caused quite a stir – one outraged teen reviewer takes him on
It is not old news to us that Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, seems to be trying to make our education just like his. His department recently decided to narrow down the books that we are going to be able to study for our GCSEs, removing American literature from the twentieth century syllabus. It seems that the classic works of Harper Lee and John Steinbeck are not up to the ‘British standard’ and Britain is not as multi-cultural as perhaps it seems.
Two of the books being taken away from our classrooms are To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. One is a book about the Great Depression in the 1930s, a book that us teenagers would get because we have lived through a financial crisis and understand what depression means; so many are struggling to get part time work and watching friends and family suffer too. It also shows racial discrimination and sexism, and how they are wrong and should not roam free in our society. The other is a book of justice that cannot be defined by just a few mere words; it made me feel a better person just for reading it. Understanding that what had happened to Tom Robinson was not proper justice makes you realise how justice cannot always be served, and how intolerance is passed down from generation to generation.
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Six Elements for Every Student
by Richard Allington, Educational Leadership
Here, we outline six elements of instruction that every child should experience every day. Each of these elements can be implemented in any district and any school, with any curriculum or set of materials, and without additional funds. All that’s necessary is for adults to make the decision to do it.
Things That Really Matter
Most of the classroom instruction we have observed lacks these six research-based elements. Yet it’s not difficult to find the time and resources to implement them. Here are a few suggestions.
First, eliminate almost all worksheets and workbooks. Use the money saved to purchase books for classroom libraries; use the time saved for self-selected reading, self-selected writing, literary conversations, and read-alouds.
Second, ban test-preparation activities and materials from the school day. Although sales of test preparation materials provide almost two-thirds of the profit that testing companies earn (Glovin & Evans, 2006), there are no studies demonstrating that engaging students in test prep ever improved their reading proficiency—or even their test performance (Guthrie, 2002). As with eliminating workbook completion, eliminating test preparation provides time and money to spend on the things that really matter in developing readers.
It’s time for the elements of effective instruction described here to be offered more consistently to every child, in every school, every day. Remember, adults have the power to make these decisions; kids don’t. Let’s decide to give them the kind of instruction they need.
- Every student reads something he or she chooses.
- Every student reads accurately.
- Every students reads something he or she understands.
- Every students writes about something personally meaningful.
- Every student talks with peers about reading and writing.
- Every student listens to a fluent adult read aloud.
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College President: SAT Is Part Hoax, Part Fraud
by Leon Botstein, Time Magazine
The president of Bard College says recent changes to the SAT are motivated by competition that College Board has experienced with its arch rival, the ACT, rather than any serious soul searching.
The changes recently announced by the College Board to its SAT college entrance exam bring to mind the familiar phrase “too little, too late.” The alleged improvements are motivated not by any serious soul searching about the SAT but by the competition the College Board has experienced from its arch rival, the ACT, the other major purveyor of standardized college entrance exams. But the problems that plague the SAT also plague the ACT. The SAT needs to be abandoned and replaced. The SAT has a status as a reliable measure of college readiness it does not deserve. The College Board has successfully marketed its exams to parents, students, colleges and universities as arbiters of educational standards. The nation actually needs fewer such exam schemes; they damage the high school curriculum and terrify both students and parents.
The blunt fact is that the SAT has never been a good predictor of academic achievement in college. High school grades adjusted to account for the curriculum and academic programs in the high school from which a student graduates are. The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated twentieth century social scientific assumptions and strategies …
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