Tuesday, August 14, 2012

And the night is enormous: CCSS, Percentages, and Genocide

I. 

 A friend sends a draft chapter from a book she is writing about genocide that Routledge will publish in 2013. The chapter is about the influence of the arts (especially) and literature on those who have become genocide scholars and activist.  Professor Alex Hinton cited the Paz poem, "Hermandad" as influential on his study of genocide. 

Here it is. I find it important to hear this aloud.


Brotherhood

Octavio Paz
Homage to Claudius Ptolemy
I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.
Translated from the Spanish by Eliot Weinberger


Professor Charli Carpenter cited the 'I, Borg' episode Star Trek: The Next Generation as that which was influential on her work on international laws about war crimes. 





Films such as: Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), Ghosts of Rwanda (Greg Barker, 2004), The Mission (Roland Joffé, 1986), The Shop on Main Street (Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, 1965), The Killing Fields (Roland Joffé, 1984)--also were cited as influential.

II. 
 
It gives me pause when I survey the list--74% of the influential texts are art, music, and literary works.  The remainder are informational texts--largely autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs. Popular culture, visual and musical arts, photographs, films, literary works--all influenced those who are clearly 'career ready'.  My friend writes that she wonders about the Common Core State Standards and its insistence on percentages of specific text types and I wonder too.   Is there some research apart from David Coleman's remarks that indicates 75% of the high school texts 'should be informational" and 25% narrative? Why?


III.

How foolish to think we can know the proper percentages of anything--let alone that which would make one college and career ready. How many of us simply act on this information via the CCSS as a given truth?

Local matters.  Context (in)forms.  To forget this is to be ignorant.

IV.

And the night is enormous.


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