The world is noticing. All around me I see new attention to the CC Standards and the Nonfiction Literacy strand within them. Perhaps it is the new school year, but educators of all stripes are trying to figure out what to do — which means that even book publishers are starting to (mistakenly) ask prospective authors to align new book ideas to the standards. That is a mistake because the NF strand is about an approach to writing, reading, and thinking, it is not a selected list of topics. An author could write about trucks, tsunamis, or TR and be in tune, or, equally, out of tune, with the standards. But still the question shows that even trade book editors, far removed from classrooms, have heard tell that a change is afoot.
Dr. Zarnowsky pointed out to me that there is even already some blowback. In the current issue of Language Arts, an article takes issue with some of the thinking behind the standards: •Research and Policy: Relating Policy to Research and Practice: The Common Core Standards
Randy Bomer and Beth Maloch
It seems perfectly possible to me that CC can be as poorly thought through and ham-handedly executed as NCLB (I hope you all read that Diane Ravitch essay I included here last week). But our interest, our stake in the ground, is not CC. Rather it is that CC has raised the issue of NF literacy. All of us — authors, librarians, teachers, parents, administrators — need to experiment, to try out different approaches to getting young people to engage with inquiry, to develop ideas, to test theories, to write research papers, and to grow in their ability to question the givens of the world. We would be terrible teachers if we rigidly stuck to one plan, with the goal of teaching students to be innovators. CC as it is stands is not a panacea, it is not The Solution (much as those of us who care about NF may feel it that way) — it is the recognition of the need for a new beginning.
(And, so I see from a survey that landed in my in-box, even YALSA is asking members about the horrible decision to create BFYA out of the mutilated body of BBYA — so perhaps the NF wave is rising even into the chambers of those who exiled it from Best Books discussions.