A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Will National Education Standards Mean for Teaching Graphic Novels?

According to the Washington Post, 46 states and D.C. are on board with plans to craft national standards of learning for each grade in k-12 education. The experts working on the plan are currently doing so clandestinely, which is worrisome to me, but the idea of common reading and math standards for each grade across states and districts seems practical and, if administered correctly, smart.

So long as the standards represent a bare minimum of what to do and do not get too directive in how to do it, I think I can support the notion. As I tell my students, the problem with "standards" is that we ought to think of them like we think of a standard automobile, not like we think of a gold standard. In other words, standards should represent the bare minimum of what teachers and students should be doing. The problem is that the bare minimum has become the gold standard in public education, so we have schools and teachers over-hyped about students passing annual standardized tests when the students' doing so should represent only the base level of the growth they've attained over the year/s.

According to the Post article, "There will be no prescription for how teachers get there, avoiding nettlesome discussions about whether phonics or whole language is a better method of teaching reading; whether students should be drilled in math facts; or whether eighth-graders should read The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird."

What does this mean for those who want to use comics in the classroom? Assuming the above quote is accurate, doing so should be just fine. It seems the national benchmarks will help inform teachers of what they need to teach but leave them the freedom -- or as much "freedom" as their individual school districts will allow them -- to get there as they wish and as they deem effective.

Comics-and-literacy proponents will want to keep an eye on this. Here's a link to the Post article.


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