Friday, July 5, 2013

Rethinking Narrative Writing and the Common Core

Narrative writing has taken a back-seat with the common core, and I admit that, at first, I had the attitude of “wait three years and it will make a comeback with renewed importance.”   I dismissed it at that.  Then, after listening to Kelly Gallagher, Ralph Fletcher, and my general fix of NPR commentaries, the realization struck me.  “Wait a minute!  We can’t ignore the narrative – it is part of our very being.” 

If we are teaching kids to utilize primary sources for the CCSS, what are they accessing?  They are reading journals and first person accounts; in other words, narratives.  Narratives of our lives at some point become our history.

Kelly Gallagher, Secondary teacher and author of several popular books on reading an writing, makes an interesting point when he speaks about David Coleman, the “lead architect” of the Common Core and  his call to de-emphasize the narrative for students’ writing requirements within the CCSS.  In stating his case for less narrative, David ironically uses just that – a story to make his point as to why narrative writing should be de-emphasized in a rigorous curriculum.

The CCSS are supposed to prepare students to be workplace ready.  Imagine a profession that does not use a narrative story to illustrate a point (leaders, teachers, doctors, salesmen, politicians, ministers…).  In telling a story in context of a presentation or speech, the narrative provides the listener with prior knowledge to increase understanding of the subject.

So I encourage David to do what we continually encourage students to do – revise.  Revise the CCSS.  The writers of the CCSS need to realize the value of the narrative in preparing secondary students to be workplace and college ready.