Friday, February 3, 2017
Get a Job
"Oh my God," she said. "We have to cut out literary texts. Students just point their 'human significance.' We can't have that as an outcome." I wondered why not? Isn't being a better human part of a writing class? Listening to my boss, I had to infer that, no, that was longer part of our curriculum, couldn't count as a definable "outcome." In spite of evidence that reading serious literary texts (not genre fiction or expository non-fiction) improves capacity for empathy and appreciation of complex psychology, education policies have expunged them from the curriculum, from k-12 Common Core standards to university courses. So, it looks like broadening one's sense of humanity, of seeing through another's eyes, of learning some sense of empathy, has given way to teaching technical skills that will then translate into getting a job, succeeding as a corporate citizen. The steady decline of literary study in writing courses comes at a price I don't think I can pay. Inclusion of literature has served me as a pathway to critical thinking, to engagement with social issues, to an aesthetic experience, and to a broader horizon of what is humanly possible. It expands students. Eliminating literary texts from a first year writing experience reduces all of us. It looks like I'll be one of those veteran teachers who can't take it anymore, who leave teaching to look for a job in all the wrong places.