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January 06, 2011


Billy Faires

Hey Laura! Excellent post with several interesting ideas. I found it interesting that Wiggins in the comment section suggests he was being a little Swiftian with his anti-fiction screed, but then he defends some of his points. I don't recall Swift ever defending any part of his recommendation that starving Irish parents eat their children.

Further, I just don't even understand why we even try and dance with this argument. Last I checked, every non-English class textbook - History, math, science - would be categorized as "non-fiction." For every single Fiction Novel or fictional short story a student reads, she reads several non-fiction textbooks and dozens of non-fiction hand-outs. She reads essays and articles and memoirs.

Journalism classes are step-children of English classes, and those are solely and completely non-fiction. My junior English class (back in the First Era of Madonna) spent an entire semester on writing and reading essays, and this hasn't diminished in all classes or all schools to the best of my knowledge.

Just how much does someone think fiction occupies in a student's average class day or week? Ten percent, at most?? I'd bet a frightening percentage of students nationwide spend more of their lives in 2010 filling in bubble sheets and taking tests than they spend reading anything fictitious.

The true challenge for English teachers and educators concerned about reading - especially boys and reading - is not about fiction, but as you put so well, connecting their experience with fiction to other issues on the learning grid, pushing conversation and debate and thought, forming and inspiring better writers and communicators, celebrating imagination.

The day we let students stop suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous Shakespeare and the authors in his large family, we will have effectively murdered education.

Whoa! You made me rant! I must stop now! (Great post!)

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