How Common Core Damages Poetry Instruction

imageApril is National Poetry Month, but poetry is not well addressed in Common Core’s English language arts standards.  It’s unclear whether the genre will survive a Common Core-based English classroom given the dramatic reduction in time spent on literary texts implicitly mandated by these national standards, and the ambivalence, if not hostility, of the standards writers towards literature, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

In “The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry Instruction,” co-authored by Anthony Esolen, Jamie Highfill, and Sandra Stotsky, Esolen, a poet and professor of literature at Providence College, concludes, “The Common Core proponents do not like poetry.”

This paper makes a case for why poetry study and recitation belongs prominently in the K-12 curriculum, despite Common Core’s workforce-oriented goals. In part I, Anthony Esolen discusses why students should read poetry at all, the kind of reading that poetry demands from us, and what poetry has to do with the child’s developing imagination. In part II, Jamie Highfill explains how poetry has traditionally been taught in the public schools. In part III, Sandra Stotsky traces what is known from large-scale studies about the poetry curriculum in this country’s public schools. Part IV discusses how Common Core’s English language arts standards seem to be influencing the poetry curriculum in our public schools. Part V suggests what the fate of poetry in the school curriculum will likely be so long as Common Core’s standards and any tests based on them legally shape K-12 education and teacher training.

You can download the paper here or read it below:

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