Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The End of Fiction?

As many of you know, I'm a teacher, and I follow all the goings on in the educational world.  Well, there's been a major shift in the expectations for an English class and what kids *should* read as they get older.  You see, people want kids who are ready for business.  When they graduate college, kids have to be ready for the *real world*, which-in a businessman's mind-is the business world.

And in the business world, you don't read fiction.

You read informational texts.  Articles, reports, that sort of thing.

So, as kids get older, they're required to read less and less fiction.  In 8th grade, they're supposed to be reading 40% fiction and 60% non-fiction.  By their senior year, if I'm not mistaken, the trend is 90% informational and 10% fiction.

That means kids aren't going to be reading classics.  They're not going to be reading great novels.  They won't be exposed to that sort of thing. 

And if they aren't exposed to it.... how will they love it? 

In the classroom, teachers are constantly trying to get kids to love reading.  To read whatever they want and to keep reading on their own.  But now, what teachers are being told is that's not what the people in charge want. 

They want to make sure they read anything but fiction.

So, what does that mean for fictional authors?  I don't know.  But, my guess is--if kids aren't exposed to good fiction, they won't seek it out.  And that means fewer and fewer books being bought.

And maybe... no more fiction in 30 years?

Okay, this is shorter than I want because my power is flickering, thanks to Sandy.  But I want to know your thoughts on this trend...


Dana King said...

It's part of a disturbing trend to make all education vo-tech. (That's what we called it when i was in school. I don't know what term they use now.)

I dislike the trend, but i'm not too worried yet. I read almost nothing but non-fiction when i got out of school, for over ten years. Much of the fiction I had shoved down my throat taught me reading fiction was a chore and not something to be enjoyed. Around the time I finished graduate school I got turned on to Vonnegut an Mark Twain and have read primarily fiction ever since.

I'm all for reading the classics, but public schools might also want to remember their primary job is to prepare young minds for life on their own. The current trend leans toward creating work drones, but should be teaching them how to think for themselves and explore new things, even if only intellectually.

I wonder if having non-fiction forced on them the way I had "great" fiction forced on me will create an opposite effect from mine, where students in a few years will have had enough and turn to fiction for their recreational reading. We'll see.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This might be worse news than Hurricane Sandy. I had no idea this was going on. Anyone who can read serious fiction can certainly read a report. They have is ass-backwards.

Steve Weddle said...

Teachers are killing fiction?
That's a new one.

Thomas Pluck said...

I am usually a big proponent of public schools- but now I realize it is the teachers I like. The administration is often utterly idiotic, if only because they must serve politicians, and therefore some guy's brother in law with a bidness, and also parents and school boards, who have their own agendas.
They've been teaching kids to take tests for how long now? It doesn't work. Teach them to enjoy learning, to realize the more you know the better you are able to survive a changing and chaotic world. Reading good stories is a big part of that.

Dana King said...

The approximate point at which things started to go to hell is when teachers became superseded by educators. The difference between the verbs these nouns describe is vast. A teacher can teach you, which allows you to educate yourself.

Assuming, of course, some educator hasn't mucked things up so the teacher isn't allowed to tech you to think.

Nick said...

They teach checkbook math in schools so why not teach how to read things that arent 500 pages about some cripple chasing a fish?

D.M. McGowan said...

If the student hasn't studied some art and music he/she has not recieved an education.
If majoring in social studies, art and music but recieving no information on science or physical fitness, education has not taken place.
If a student does not learn to read and enjoy fiction he will not have developed the ability to think for himself.
This is a marvelous goal for most of those who call themselves our "leaders" for they can then create a mob who will follow them and do exactly as they are told.
Not a good state of affairs for those who actually think.