Inspired by Michael Holquist’s challenge to the MLA to dialogue about the CCSI, what it means for us, and our relationship to secondary education, this is a space for discussion of standards, assessment, and our role in this process.

The Common Core and creative writers

1 reply, 2 voices Last updated by  Margaret W. Ferguson 7 years ago
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    Cynthia Scheinberg

    I am so pleased to see the Common Core as a vibrant area of conversation! I am currently a member of two projects here in California working with middle and high school teachers on transitioning to the Common Core, so I am getting perspective both from this MLA discussion as well as from teachers on the new standards.

    One issue I think will be relevant for English Departments as the Common Core is implemented is the role of creative writing in our departments. Right now, our department and many others have seen a huge rise in our creative writing emphasis or major, in part,  I think, because creative responses to literary texts has been a mainstay of high school English classes right now; students seem to discover themselves as creative writers before they even get to us.  But with the onset of the Common Core, which stresses expository writing much more strongly, I wonder if this will have an effect on the numbers of students who want to focus on creative writing in college.   I can say that many teachers and administrators I have talked to do not anticipate the total demise of imaginative literature in English classrooms, which was an issue I heard some concern about from higher ed faculty.  I think most teachers in high school English classrooms have the idea that the ratio of imaginative literature to non-literary texts is 70/30 percent, so they feel that they can still teach  a lot of literary texts even if there is more emphasis on the so called “informational” text. But I do think the shift in emphasis in writing assignments from creative and personal to the more expository and academic writing may have impacts on what our students want to do when they get to college.

    Cynthia Scheinberg. Mills College


    Margaret W. Ferguson

    Thank you, Cynthia! This is a really interesting new thread!  And I’m sure you’re right that the CC standards as currently written could prompt changes in the ways in which students choose courses in the many college English departments that have creative writing and “literature” wings.  I’m still hopeful, however, that college teachers of creative writing, composition courses, and literature courses focused on interpretation can find ways to support high school teachers as they attempt both to “implement” the CC Standards and to question some of the assumptions the current document (and its three important Appendices) articulate–but not in ways that draw clear lines among all the dots.  There’s room for further discussion on teaching exercises and  text selections that would complicate the dichotomy between “imaginative”/”informational” reading materials, for instance.  (What about studying point of view in two historical accounts of the “same” event? or metaphors in an article about botany?)  There’s also room for discussion and modelling of assignments for both high school and college students that would cross the conventional boundary between “creative” and “expository” writing.

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