Learning Matters’ John Merrow reported last night on the PBS NewsHour about reading instruction and the trend toward teaching less fiction.
It’s 10 minutes long. Please take a look:
Merrow reviews three major reading instructional approaches: basal readers, balanced literacy, and core knowledge.
Most elementary schools have moved away from basal readers, even though the approach is cost-effective, and now use a balanced literacy program, which offers a combination of teacher-assigned texts and student independent reading.
The Core Knowledge approach, developed by cultural literacy proponent E.D. Hirsch, has become more popular with the spread of the Common Core standards. In Core Knowledge, “content is king,” Merrow says. Instead of focusing on teaching strategies, the idea is that students become better readers by building prior knowledge. The more you read, the better reader you become.
What’s interesting to me is that each of these programs does not immediately meet the demands of Common Core, with its emphasis on close reading, evidence, and New Criticism.
And yes, I’m still worried about the demise of fiction. Although I love informational texts, the last two years, I’ve come to realize the importance of fiction in young people’s lives. Here’s another article that supports my view: “You Are What You Read.” While nonfiction will build our analytical skills, fiction builds our empathy.