RETAINING HUMANITY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS CURRICULUM: ARE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES OF EXPOSURE TO WRITING AND READING LITERATURE AND POETRY MEASURABLE USING CURRENT ASSESSMENT SCHEMES?
SUNY Empire State College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:What makes us human and is it worth gaining knowledge of the constituents of our humanity in a 21st century secondary English Language Arts curriculum? Most societal institutions; hospitals, schools, governmental and legal bodies acknowledge that within our social and political constructs a human, emotional, instinctual and possibly not fully measurable component can govern our choices and actions. Does this component show up in works of art? How do we measure this component and what is its importance in English Education? When we quantify student learning, we reach for a universal ideal that may obfuscate the very unique individual configuration of invention and brain -power that has moved us forward in our evolution. According to C.G. Jung, “The more a theory lays claim to universal validity, the less capable it is of doing justice to the individual facts.” (p. 7)
Jung refers to the individual as an “irrational datum”, one that is the “true and authentic carrier of reality.” (p. 11)
Now, in the 21st century, in the United States and in other parts of the globe, we are urged to embrace quantifiable outcomes of educational attainment. Looking at educational outcomes through this lens, particularly in the Humanities, privileges information over art, non-fiction over fiction and the attainment of lexile measures over the heart or brilliance of the text at hand.
Raising standards for all learners are commendable and clearly something to strive for. However, worship of data as a prime determinant of student comprehension and development has completely overlain teacher preparation. The engine that drives this data collection is a test. The fuel for this engine is a rubric. Do our rubrics used for measuring student advancement assess student understanding and transactional activity with texts? Do they measure nuanced responses that could potentially catapult English Language Arts learners to desire and devour good writing and intelligent media?
By leveling, do we run the risk of raising automatons? When we saturate teacher education with data driven assessments as catalysts for lesson planning, do we bog them down with data gathering and reporting?
In this paper on how English Language Arts methodology might be re-examined, we look at current standards, rubrics and juggernauts used in the field for teacher preparation to see whether some of these widely accepted educational trends might be viewed through a different lens – the human one. We will look at wordplay, poetry, literature, and media to see how we, as English teachers, can inspire the developing student to really connect with the work and not just strive for the benchmark.