The “Me” Curriculum at the DOE: Why we need to stop telling students “Narrative writing is all about me.”

Dr. Mark Bauerlein

Dr. Mark Bauerlein

Here is a terrific guest column written for the blog by Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein,  the author of  2008 book “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future.”

This is a good piece for teachers to discuss.

By Mark Bauerlein

You couldn’t get much farther from the life of a Georgia teenager than the world of Ernest Hemingway’s 1933 short story “A Clean, Well-lighted Place.” There, an old man in a café drinks late into the night while two waiters discuss him. The older waiter goes home with fatalistic thoughts, at one point slipping into the Lord’s Prayer but substituting nada for “Father”— an expression of his atheism whose terrible loneliness he keeps at bay with bright, familiar spaces at home and work.

The irrelevance of that scene to Georgia teens, however, doesn’t prevent the Georgia Department of Education from recommending that 11th Grade teachers issue this writing assignment to English students:

The characters in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” are all seeking a home, a place of refuge, a place that is “clean and pleasant.” Describe your own “clean, well-lighted place,” the place where you feel safe, secure, and most “at home.”

The assignment appears in a unit on “The Aftermath of Destruction: Reconstructing the American Dream,” with readings also by Stephen Crane, Faulkner, Frederick Douglass, and many others. It comes from a Web page on which the DOE posts lesson plans to help teachers with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

But how does having students write an essay about a personal “refuge” enhance their knowledge of the literature and how to interpret it? Such prompts ask them to reveal things about themselves, not analyze the texts. Other prompts under “Argumentative/Opinion” and “Informative/Explanatory” do require critical judgments, but this one, under the “Narrative” label, solicits only a private description. Why does it show up at all?

It’s not the only one. Right next to it stands another one:

In her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” Zora Neale Hurston defines her personal experience as an African-American female in early 20th century America. Using Hurston’s essay as a model, define how it feels to be yourself (as a male, as a female, as a member of any group) in early 21st century America.

And this one from a 7th grade unit on “Demonstrating character,” which starts by citing the Cuban Missile Crisis and asks students:

If you were President of your own country and had the power to make laws, start of stop wars, end hunger, etc., what would you do? Write about an imaginary country where you are the president. Make your country the way you wish it could be.

In fact, most specimens of narrative writing in the units involve some sort of personal experience, reflection, or opinion. One from a 7th-grade unit on Civil Rights may be the very worst, which asks students to pretend they were witnesses to the horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and a friend was seriously injured. “What emotions are you feeling?” it proposes. “How will these events affect your future? What will you do to see that justice is served?”

As a college teacher of freshman English, I can see no sense in these assignments. They don’t improve critical aptitude, and they encourage a mode of reading and writing that will likely never happen in a college major or their eventual job. There is a theory behind it, of course, holding that only if students can relate to their subjects will they do their best and most authentic writing, not to mention explore and develop their unique selves.

The notion sounds properly student-centered, the motives educational, but in practice few 14-year-olds have the intellectual and emotional equipment to respond. Puberty turns them inside out, the tribalisms of middle school confound them, the worlds seems awfully big, the message of youth culture impart fantastical versions of peers, and they’re not sure who they are.

What lurid imaginings do we throw them into when we tell them to witness a bombing? Do we really expect 7th graders to ruminate upon their integrity? Ponder these assignments closely and they start to look less benevolent and more coercive. One of them in an 8th grade unit on “Adolescent identities” mentions a short story involving self-sacrifice, then says,

Think of a time in your life where you have put someone else’s needs or wants, like a family member or friend, ahead of your own desires. Convey to an audience of your peers what the circumstances of that time were, who you sacrificed for and what led you to that decision.

A 14-year-old receiving it must wonder just how self-sacrificing he must appear. If the student doesn’t remember too much and still has to fill more pages, she will fabricate the necessary details. Should he admit to having resented the self-sacrifice? Should she congratulate herself for her good deeds? The whole exercise involves so many tricky expectations that the student wonders what implicit lesson he should take from it.

Supporters of these kinds of personal experience/expression exercises will probably turn such complications into a teachable moment. But we may find another reason to eliminate them: they undermine the very standards they herald. The units claim to align with Common Core, the national initiative adopted by Georgia, each unit matching English Language Arts standards (I played a small role in early drafts of them).

Common Core, too, includes narrative as one of the three main modes in its writing standards, one for 7th grade, for instance, stating, “Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences”

But what Common Core means here is decidedly not what these Georgia assignments assume. Common Core wants students to know how to tell a story, recount an event, and reproduce settings clearly and sequentially. Explaining how one action succeeds another, detailing people and places, getting times right . . . these objective features Common Core favors. It does not solicit personal feelings, identity ruminations, and fantasy opinions (“what would you do if you were president?”).

The DOE needs to review these units and remove the personal assignments. It should also reconsider the philosophy that led to their inclusion in the curriculum. Georgia has adopted Common Core and these materials contravene it. More importantly, if the state wants its high school graduates to succeed in college and the workplace, it needs to stop telling them, “Narrative writing is all about me.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

53 comments Add your comment

Are we allowed to talk about this?

February 4th, 2013
11:25 am

It was always a mystery – what motivated the Midtown Shooter? None of the news articles mentioned a motive for this person who shot three people – murdering one person, and leaving a second person paralyzed from the wasit down.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/thandiwe-admits-to-shooting-my-mind-was-blank/nWBB2/

“During his testimony Wednesday, Thandiwe suggested that his reason for even purchasing the gun he used in the shootings was to enforce beliefs he’d developed about white people during his later years as an anthropology major at the University of West Georgia.

“I was trying to prove a point that Europeans had colonized the world, and as a result of that, we see a lot of evil today,” he said. “In terms of slavery, it was something that needed to be answered for. I was trying to spread the message of making white people mend.”

He said the night before the shooting, he attended a so-called “Peace Party” intended to address his concerns about helping the black community find equal footing, but two white people were there.

“I was upset,” Thandiwe said. “I was still upset Friday. I took the gun to work because I was still upset from Thursday night.”’

I was an anthrolopogy major as an undergraduate twenty years ago, and my friends and I used to complain about it then – that, as anthropology majors, all we were learning was critiques (of western society, of the colonial endeavor, etc) but no context and no history. All we were learning was, “And dark-skinned people got screwed over again.”

It really wasn’t until I was in graduate school that as part of our coursework, we read the more “old school” anthropology, where entire societies were described and we learned a LOT more about the brutalities and violence that non-Western peoples have inflicted upon each other for millenia before the colonists came along. To put it mildly, life before the Europeans arrived wasn’t exactly pattycake, but you would never know it from the way anthropology (and, I suspect, history as well) is being taught.

Can we talk about this? Are we allowed to discuss these murders and what this means?

devildog0300

February 4th, 2013
11:42 am

Take the “I” and “me” out of the works of many AJC columnists and they’d be about half as long.

DunMoody

February 4th, 2013
12:09 pm

The focus in writing instruction on first-person narrative is a misguided attempt to engage students who are inherently self-focused, lack basic writing skills at grade level, or aren’t “motivated” to push themselves. (Let them read graphic novels! Let’s create a video! Let’s do a group writing assignment and share the load!) Yes, students prefer to write about themselves. Writing instruction should span mastery of a variety of styles and media, including print and electronic.

Students don’t understand that opinion is obvious in the essential mechanics of writing an essay or report … without using first person pronouns. It must be frustrating for the English teachers who know better, but are stymied by the directives.

Terry Krugman

February 4th, 2013
12:18 pm

When I was in the PHD program in the College of Education at a local university the faculty awarded a prize to the best dissertation. One of the winners was a lengthy tome by a suburban English teacher whose topic was how his students reacted to him being gay. The paper was one personal anecdote after another- i.e. “Mary looked surprised but Johnny didn’t when I told my class of my orientation…”. This not only passed as ’scholarship’ but was deemed worthy of a prize.
Seems like some of the colleges are also party to this solipsistic trend..

mathmom

February 4th, 2013
12:29 pm

I could stand the first-person-narrative-emotion dump if students were held to a high standard for sentence structure, word usage, punctuation, and grammar. Of course, they are not. Common Core is not a common cure for what ails education. That would require common sense – a commodity in short supply.

Beverly Fraud

February 4th, 2013
12:43 pm

I hope Invisible Serf weighs in.

jarvis

February 4th, 2013
12:43 pm

Very flawed argument.

‘if the state wants its high school graduates to succeed in college and the workplace, it needs to stop telling them, “Narrative writing is all about me.” ‘

This makes a giant assumption that narrative writing in any form no matter whether it “is all about me” or someone else has any sort of imparct on success in the workplace.

jarvis

February 4th, 2013
12:45 pm

Dr. Mark Bauerlein looks just like Mark Hamill.

sam lee

February 4th, 2013
12:48 pm

Thank you! Someone that finally sees that we are teaching our students that it is all about them! They should be able to write papers using many different genres; a personal reflection might be acceptable for one assignment.

I Teach Writing

February 4th, 2013
12:51 pm

While I have little use for the expressivist impulse that frequently leads to these types of writing prompts, and while I agree that telling students to imagine themselves as apparently godlike dictators introduces a wee bit of distortion into their awareness of our political system, I also think there’s a case to be made for asking students to write themselves into historical situations.

Let’s be clear: doing so is not the best training in narrative writing. On that we agree. But I don’t see how asking students to imagine themselves as witnesses to a historical event is objectionable. For one thing, getting the details right will take considerable research. Helping readers to see those details will take considerable practice. Projecting psychological outcomes for witnesses will mean some distortion, of course, as any student will carry his or her existing mental furniture along for the ride, but that’s also true of any historian trying to understand events and outcomes. If the student can grasp — even a little — the degree to which history is contingent, then such an assignment serves a worthy cause.

William Blackwood

February 4th, 2013
12:52 pm

I recently asked a group of 10th-grade students, many of whom are bilingual, to compare the structure of the following three statements: “cogito ergo sum”; “pienso, luego existo”; “I think; therefore, I am.” They were to consider how the Spanish rendition differs from the English version in terms of subject and verb conjugation. I explained to them the conjugation of the Latin phrase and how the subject is understood to go with the verb. I then asked them why Spanish is considered a Romance language, linked to Latin, while English is a Germanic language without a direct link to Latin. Many of them “got it” after much explaining by me. However, I could not avoid the impression that these students did not get the basics of grammar, something to which I was exposed quite rigorously in elementary school. Without such a foundation, effective writing becomes very difficult indeed.

I Teach Writing

February 4th, 2013
1:14 pm

@William Blackwood — The vast majority get no such foundation. University students routinely enter my classroom unable to distinguish a phrase from a clause from a sentence, confused (and therefore embarrassed) by parts of speech, and in the habit of placing commas “wherever you would pause while reading.” To their credit, they know that they’re missing the foundation and are upset that they’ve not been taught these fundamentals.

captguitarman

February 4th, 2013
1:27 pm

Very interesting column, and now being far removed from my academic years (I graduated college in 1972), my observations may be nothing but outdated. My more recent contact with the educational establishment was while raising children (from the late 70’s and into the early 2000’s), who all attended public schools, when the completely bogus and academically bankrupt “self esteem” movement took root and blossomed.

My children were fortunate to have parents who called BS when they saw it, and who demanded far more from them as students than achieving good self esteem. Self esteem, of course, is earned by hard work and achievement, not by telling yourself over and over again, and being reminded that you are “somebody” and that you are “important,” etc.

Since the kids all graduated and are grown and out of the nest, I am not really sure what is going on in the public schools these days except that the more money that is spent on education, the more mixed the results are. I don’t know if the “self-esteem” movement is still in full force, or has finally died a much deserved death, so it was interesting that the column alluded to what appear to be vestiges of what could be described as that awful, it’s all about me and how I feel “curriculum.” Also, all of the protests about measuring results by testing are vestiges of the self esteem movement.

What I do know is that when I attended high school and college and majored in political science, with minors in history, English, and education, I recall writing very little that didn’t require first reading something, a book, or books, or periodicals, or doing in depth research ahead of time. I had to write several term papers in high school, and many more than that in college. Observations and opinions were to based on facts, not what I thought about things. The occasional assignment called for personal thoughts and feelings, in freshman English comp, but even then a rational basis, the influence, the seed of the idea had to be discussed and how impacted your personal thoughts and feelings.

The premise was that, as a student, you realy don’t know anything (especially later on in law school), especially anything that would be worth sharing, until you do the reading, the work, the research first. While doing that, you will learn things, lots and lots of things, and then you will be asked to write about them and cite your sources. My sense is that the approach being taken today and the academic atomosphere is far different. And he digital age is not helpful – but that is another whole discussion.

beteachin

February 4th, 2013
1:29 pm

Today’s educators, myself included, probably assign too many narratives in order to get the students to actually complete their writing assignments. Most students aren’t scared of writing narratives, but they will not write other types of essays. It’s hard to get a personal story “wrong,” so they have very little risk and are required to do very little work. Kids do like persuasive topics (they are teenagers who know everything, of course) but are usually taught to give personal examples to support their opinions rather provide than “real” evidence. Thus the persuasive essays become pseudo-narratives as well. The 25-minute SAT essay asks for student opinion as does the GHSWT. So our students are not “judged” on other types of writing–unless a particular teacher or a school’s English department expects it. Also, since many schools don’t allow teachers to assign failing grades, teachers assign essays that students are more like to actually start and finish. Georgia students ARE challenged by the honors and AP/IB courses at most public and private high schools, but most students only have to take an EOCT in 9th English and American Literature, and there’s no essay requirement except for the GHSWT. The overall expectations are very low. The government cogs in the wheel [unfunded mandates, social programs that ensure generational poverty, PCness, etc....]have all but stopped the machine; true learning for the masses has almost ground to a halt. (But somehow most of them are eligible for HOPE anyway.)

indigo

February 4th, 2013
1:35 pm

It needs to be remembered that 11th grade students are NOT college students. They need to learn the basics of good essay writing before they get involved in the nuances of good subject narrative writing.

bootney farnsworth

February 4th, 2013
2:03 pm

@ are we allowed

if you can tie this in to the concept of narrative writing, go for it.

jd

February 4th, 2013
2:03 pm

High school students should have mastered the basics of a good essay by 8th grade. And should have read Hemingway, Buck, Austen, Johnson, etc by their junior year…

bootney farnsworth

February 4th, 2013
2:13 pm

@ jd

they should, but usually don’t.

indigo

February 4th, 2013
2:34 pm

jd

Most parents of high school students can’t afford expensive private schools that teach “Hemmingway, Buck, Austen and Johnson” by their junior year.

Beverly Fraud

February 4th, 2013
3:19 pm

“Ponder these assignments closely and they start to look less benevolent and more coercive.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the author is channeling his inner Invisible Serf.

catlady

February 4th, 2013
3:24 pm

Ms. Downey, any comment on the new Edweek article about states backing out of CC?

Mom to Many

February 4th, 2013
3:26 pm

No worries…Common Core will fix all. Lots of discovery-math, group-think…I mean, collaborative learning, and how-to-fill-out-a-rubric in lieu of actually performing calculations and learning to write and rewrite. Make sure little Johnny writes down every single thought that comes to mind while he’s doing his nightly “reading.” Hope he writes down enough thoughts or he’ll be counted off for slacking…

And that’s in one of the “world-class” metro counties…

TechEd

February 4th, 2013
3:40 pm

My students don’t understand how words are constructed either, so they can’t make an educated guess as to what a word means by looking at its root and any prefix or suffix. If they were taught this in K-12, they would be better able to recognize not just the patterns in the English language, but also those between English and foreign languages. A very large percentage of students entering the technical college system these days are functionally illiterate.

I believe everyone can benefit from honest, personal reflection, but as far as personal narrative writing goes, about the only opportunities one gets for telling one’s story and/or discussing one’s feelings after public school are in therapy, church, 12-step meetings, or one’s memoirs. Otherwise, with the possible exception of one’s closest friends and family, people don’t generally care to hear them, certainly not in business situations, where the need to summarize reports, etc. far outweighs anyone’s personal feelings about the material.

Wilbur

February 4th, 2013
3:51 pm

In High School American History, Mr. B encouraged us to develop our own policy solutions to the Vietnam War which was then raging. Of course as sixteen year olds we were full of answers but unencumbered by knowledge. I liked the teacher at the time but look back on him as a pathetic figure, lacking the capacity or interest to actually teach us something. Fortunately, my college profs did not give in to such foolishness. They demanded critical thinking skills and demanded a knowledge of history and context.

Just A Teacher

February 4th, 2013
4:01 pm

It seems as if the author has no clue what is really going on in America. The “Me” curriculum is a result of poorly prepared students being asked to respond to literature which they can barely read. All writers know that reading others’ work increases your vocabulary and your knowledge of grammar. In a world filled with distractions, however, students are not accustomed to or appreciative of the joy of reading. This is a societal issue. Political positions are simplified to sound bytes. Text messaging is written in some obscure code which has no rules of grammar (or spelling, for that matter). People are not communicating via the written word the same way they did before the advent of the computer age. Until society loses its mind numbing infatuation with instantaneous gratification, and people begin to read for pleasure and enlightenment again, we can hardly blame students for poor writing skills. If you had never read anything but text messages, yor riting wld luk sumthin lik ths.

Once Again

February 4th, 2013
4:39 pm

Why did the republicans not shut down the DOE when they had the chance. This bunch of do-nothing parasites doesn’t educate anyone, costs billions in direct dollars and billions more to enforce the unconstitutional regulations they put out. They have been a huge part of the problem since they were created. Just shut them down and save everyone the future grief.

skipper

February 4th, 2013
4:46 pm

Great article Maureen………………

FlaTony

February 4th, 2013
5:15 pm

Before becoming an elementary school principal, I taught chemistry and physic where I expected students to write based on what was learned in the course. As an elementary principal, I was appalled at all the stories about “me” and moved to eradicate them. Further, when I found that the state writing test encouraged students to write persuasive papers without the use of references/facts I nearly went ballistic. Persuasive writing must include citations and factual references. We still have a long way to go, but we have made progress in my neck of the woods.

RCB

February 4th, 2013
6:32 pm

Since when do you have to go to a private school to read great authors? Use a library! This article is interesting insofar as letting us non-education professionals know what’s going on, especially in the testing arena. It seems to me that students should have had enough of this “me” writing in elementary school. Middle and high school should be more about research and critical thinking.

Home-tutoring parent

February 4th, 2013
8:03 pm

I kind of think I Teach Writing should be democratically-elected to lead an Occupy Wall Street protest group.

ELA teacher

February 4th, 2013
9:24 pm

One reason why teachers do feel compelled to help students with this kind of writing is that it actually does have a pretty significant “real world” application to a teenager. You don’t do well in the college admissions process (or the process of applying for special programs, scholarships, etc.) if you can’t write skillfully about yourself.

For instance, at Emory, where Bauerlein teaches, one admissions essay involves describing how you would fit in well to Emory. Another asks you to describe yourself in five sentences. Other schools ask you to describe a time you showed leadership, what you would invent if you had unlimited resources, etc. This is exactly all me, me, me writing. Bauerlein should note that Emory admissions does its part to incentivize the personal narratives he finds so repugnant.

Besides, I think he has missed the mark. Personal narratives aren’t the real problem here. Most teachers I know spend little time teaching narrative writing anyway; the Common Core really deemphasizes it. I spend my time on argumentative and expository, which is on the state tests and requires a lot of practice. The problem is that we teach LITERATURE as being about me, me, me — as though relating to the characters personally is the most important thing about a work of fiction. We tell them hey, reading is always fun! Read this book that you can relate to! And then we wonder why they cannot handle digging into literature that doesn’t immediately grab them, why they believe they should be allowed to stop reading something if they can’t relate to it. Personal narratives should be about you. Reading Shakespeare and Chaucer should, in most respects, not be about you.

Truth in Moderation

February 4th, 2013
10:27 pm

This blog is a “me” blog. Most teachers pontificate (often with poor spelling/grammar) their views on the pre-framed debate, with no care given to cite factual evidence to prove their point. A logical argument based on a false assumption is good news for the owners of the serfs.

Here’s what one of them is up to…
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-06-22/article/35661

I Teach Writing

February 5th, 2013
8:52 am

@ELA Teacher — Dead on. When they get to college, we (their teachers) find ourselves fighting a constant rearguard action against the word “relatable.” Students use the word — always approvingly — to indicate when THEY can “relate to” something in a work of literature. But they think that “relatability” is somehow a quality of the work itself, rather than a marker of their own reactive frame of mind.

Many use the idea as a sort of gatekeeper: if the work doesn’t seem “relatable,” then why should they bother with it?

clueless

February 5th, 2013
11:51 am

“what led you too that decision”

“reconsider the philosophy that led to their inclusion them in the curriculum”

Really?

Maureen Downey

February 5th, 2013
12:00 pm

@Clueless, Thanks. Fixed. Will check to see if the “too” is incorrect in the state materials as the author took that quote from DOE materials.
Maureen

Mark Bauerlein

February 5th, 2013
12:02 pm

Good pick-up on those typos, clueless. Did you have a take on the issue, though?

Mark Bauerlein

February 5th, 2013
12:03 pm

An added, note: the state materials contain several errors, some of which I corrected.

[...] The “me” curriculum is undermining learning, writes Mark Bauerlein, an Emory professor, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. [...]

DrJB

February 5th, 2013
3:45 pm

Interestingly, the article is very one-sided, isn’t it? It fails to mention all the other DOE-developed writing tasks, such as the one my students are currently addressing:

We have explored the work of Thoreau, who speaks of living a simple life outside the pull of society’s distractions. We have also explored the works of the Fireside Poets on similar themes. Together these works define the Romantic vision of the ideal man, living by his intuition and in tune with nature. Using evidence from the texts, explore the Romantic vision of the ideal man.

To be sure, I am no fan of government mandates regarding curriculum and instruction, and the DOE is clear that it offers the documents not as mandates but as “models.” However, Dr. Bauerlein uses only part of some very extensive documents to support his argument. Ms. Downey should have done more rigorous fact-checking before reprinting and made mention of the many other expository writing assignments which also appear in the frameworks.

[...] all about me.” An Emory University English professor explains why Georgia’s writing assessments don’t really teach kids much about the narrative. (Get Schooled/Atlantic Journal [...]

Fayette Teacher

February 5th, 2013
5:21 pm

In K-12 in Fayette County the mechanics of writing and the construction of words using prefixes, roots, and suffixes are taught. Why are they not embraced by a majority of students? The answer as I see it is a lack of attention to detail and a lack of a sense of pride in their writing.” Dash it off and turn it in” seems to be the mentality.

Jessica Suzanne

February 5th, 2013
5:26 pm

Spot on, this article. Right down to the middle school where I teach students to “respond to their reading” making connections from the text to “their self.” Today I had to point out to a teacher that this type of nightly reading response only teaches kids to use the text as a “jumping off” point for writing and that it shows me nothing about comprehension. As for grammar: if you don’t have kids working in groups, collaborating on “authentic grammar problems that are differentiated to meet the needs of all learners”, making sure that nothing is overarching or directly taught, well, then, a little grammar instruction is ok. As long as it’s fun and relevant and empowers kids. They all read their own books because imposing our adult interpretations on a piece of literature that everyone reads together is “bad practice.” Instead, we see kids reading Dave Pelzer books in sixth grade or never leaving the Harry Potter series. And the ones who have learned to fake read will someone “get there” with enough support and endless options: comic books, magazines, etc.. Trickle, trickle, trickle: this kind of stuff goes all the way down to elementary school.

Mark Bauerlein

February 6th, 2013
10:41 am

To DrJB: Yes, there are many other writing assignments, which I noted in my piece (under “Argumentative” and “Informative”). But that doesn’t change the fact that these assignments are there, and they dominate the “Narrative” thread. No fact-checking needed on this.

Private Citizen

February 6th, 2013
11:27 am

One thing about English professor Dr. Bauerlein is that he sees the work / mindset of first year college student incoming freshman, and this from a wide geographic distribution. it is notable work to take these and train them in solid writing and “academic rigor”, a term much mentioned but understood by few.

Private Citizen

February 6th, 2013
12:04 pm

Terry Krugman is correct that their are colleges of education that encourage use of personal identity politics as substance for dissertation with the possibility of certain “identities” and perspective to be among the accepted / endorsed by the professoriate of the department. Middle class white male is not one the celebrated formation identities. Maybe someone can break new ground doing a dissertation on same. The problem with this is that it then turns education dissertation into revelling about identity politics. There seems to be a formula to it, one must adopt the identity of “outsider” and describe the “struggle.” There is also likely required some sort of polarity where the school of education or coming to the US is proxied as the “savior.” Well, there’s a dissertation topic right there: education or other description of bureaucracy used as “savior” or Christ figure in identity-politics type education dissertation. Corollaries would be numerous and easy to assemble. The many tiered departmental directing / approval process might not go so well, though.

exteacher

February 6th, 2013
9:08 pm

Hey Neighbor, Just wanted to let you know I read your article and enjoyed it!

rsf

February 7th, 2013
4:13 am

I agree with such good food for thought. However the irony of this AJC submission is MD hasn’t written about herself at all! It’s a extended quote from MB. Perhaps you ought to have solicited an original writing from Bauerlein himself… or asked the publisher of said 2008 book for permission to reprint this excerpt.

Private Citizen

February 7th, 2013
5:17 am

there / their

Maureen Downey

February 7th, 2013
8:59 am

@Rsf, Not sure if you are a real person or a spambot as spammers don’t usually read the actual article, which appears to be the case with this odd comment.
This is an original essay by Dr. Bauerlein for the blog. Please note that it says that in the first line.
If that fact was not clear, please note that the piece carries the professor’s byline.
And if that still wasn’t clear, please see all the posts from the author himself here among the comments.
This is not an excerpt from his book, which was written before Common Core was developed. This is commentary from him on a current Georgia education issue.
Maureen

Marilyn Hollman

February 7th, 2013
10:43 pm

Most of you who respond apparently have low opinions of the intellect and judgment of younger readers and writers. I don’t agree.

Ultimately, all writing is personal although in some genres we attempt, as we should, to filter our personal lens to be more objective.