Room 313

adventures in teaching creative writing

Fiction vs Nonfiction

My first year of teaching high school English was as much a learning experience for me as it was my students. I had three classes of Pre-AP English 2, and Daniel was one of my students. We have stayed in touch off and on, and he recently reached out to me on Facebook, asking if I’d heard of Common Core because he’d recently read an article about CCSS on NPR.

Here’s what Daniel wrote:

“I would agree with you that nonfiction and fiction need to be balanced. However David Coleman’s quote makes me think that common core does not recognize fiction’s value. Yes fiction can help one understand themselves but it can also help them understand others. Fiction frequently explores different issues and gives them a foundation for discussion. (To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Hamlet). Stories are a tool for rhetoric. Stories exercise the imagination. Innumerable influential people were story tellers and I think we are much better for that. I could write a lot about each of those statements, but the point is that fiction has an important place in english classes and the world.”

Daniel is going into the medical field. Perhaps he is a future Khaled Hosseini or William Carlos Williams: doctor by day, writer by night.

What are your thoughts on the fiction-nonfiction debate in Common Core? How is your school reacting?

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One thought on “Fiction vs Nonfiction

  1. mrdalsky on said:

    Based on candid discussions that have taken place this year, our English department definitely agrees with Daniel. The general consensus is that our students would hate reading if all we ever read was nonfiction. On the other side of it, we also seem to think that nonfiction adds something to our curriculum. We think that neither should be exclusively used (at least not in a typical English course).

    When my juniors read the Declaration of Independence (one of the required Common Core texts for 11th and 12th grade), they were like, “Uhhhh, we’ve read this a million times and it hasn’t gotten any more exciting or meaningful.” I think fiction often connects more easily to a high school student, so it’s used more often.

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