Learning is not done to you, it is something you choose to do.
~ Seth Godin , “Stop Stealing Dreams”
David Coleman and other proponents of close reading clearly don’t have respect for students or the learning process.
Common Core’s emphasis on deep analysis of text and close reading is an inappropriate and misguided approach to reading instruction that will discourage and dispirit many students.
“…A first reading is about figuring out what a text says. It is purely an issue of reading comprehension. Thus, if someone is reading a story, he/should be able to retell the plot; if someone is reading a science chapter, he/she should be able to answer questions about the key ideas and details of the text…
However, close reading requires that one go further than this. A second reading would, thus, focus on figuring out how this text worked. How did the author organize it? What literary devices were used and how effective were they?…
Finally, with the information gleaned from the first two readings, a reader is ready to carry out a third reading—going even deeper. What does this text mean? What was the author’s point? What does it have to say to me about my life or my world? How do I evaluate the quality of this work—aesthetically, substantively?…
Thus, close reading is an intensive analysis of a text in order to come to terms with what it says, how it says it, and what it means. In one sense I agree with those who say that close reading is about more than comprehension or about something different than comprehension…”
Shanahan on Literacy: “What is Close Reading?” 6/18/12
David Coleman has been promoting and “selling” the Common Core as new and improved learning standards that will prepare all students for college and careers in the 21st century, when close reading, the cornerstone of the ELA Standards, is a 20th century approach to learning and reading instruction.
“Now, it appears, Coleman wishes to impose his own high academic standards on students from kindergarten to high school. Moreover, he has a very deliberate approach to learning, and to reading in particular. He embraces what in the 1940′s and 1950′s was called New Criticism, a movement in U.S. universities that emphasized sticking tenaciously to the text of whatever one is reading.
In other words, all discussion in a classroom about a particular text needs to be based on the text itself (or, alternatively, needs to be compared to another text). New Criticism cautions the reader not to go beyond the text to consider, for example, the biography of the author, the social or historical period in which he/she was writing, or, for that matter, even one’s own personal feelings, attitudes, and experiences in relation to the text.
As Coleman famously stated at an April, 2011 presentation for educators sponsored by the New York State Department of Education: “no one gives a shit what you feel or what you think [about the text you are reading].” He doesn’t want students to take what they are reading and connect it to their own lives, or describe how they feel about what they’re reading”
Thomas Armstrong, “Architect of New National Curriculum: Power in The Hands of One” 9/28/12
Employers do not expect their workers to close read text in most cases, just comprehend it. Employees applying the close reading strategy in a fast paced and competitive business environment will most likely lose a client, an account, and even their job.
The Common Core cultivates compliant and close reading students who take tests, while many employers desire creative learners and confident problem solvers who don’t hesitate to take action.
Close reading enthusiasts claim that all students, regardless of individual ability or disability, will not be ready for college and career until they can independently “dive into” and master complex informational text, with limited or no prior knowledge.
This claim defies logic as they would have parents and teachers believe that college students and employees do not have access to their classmates, co-workers, supervisors, a dictionary, a thesaurus, audio books, a Smartphone and other assistive technology devices that support weaker and learning disabled readers.
Close reading supporters claim that the ability to painstakingly deconstruct and dissect authentic text and passages that are “rich and worthy of close reading” is essential for the workplace while the vast majority of department memos, company directives, monthly reports, and business correspondence require reading comprehension skills.
Close reading advocates claim the strategy will cultivate essential and widely used college and workplace literacy skills, yet the reading strategy requires students to “discuss what the author is “up to” and demonstrate that they “understand how an author builds and shapes meaning through their craft and structure.”
Do close reading evangelists really envision an employee responding, when called upon for his or her recommendations regarding the current quarterly sales report…
“Well I’m not really sure if this data is good news or bad news because I did not read the previous quarterly report as that would be providing context and using prior knowledge to help me understand this month’s report, and I will need a little more time to go through this report because I am still dissecting the craft and structure of the introductory paragraph and haven’t even started to deconstruct the remaining text and determine what the author is up to.”
The Common Core are a contrived set of learning standards promoted by David Coleman to prepare our students for his ideal and imaginary world without reading disabilities, where all knowledge is derived from close reading text and the answers to all problems are text-based.