Monthly Archives: May 2012

Summer Reading

It’s too bad that “summer reading” is now something you have to do for school to keep all those people happy who think children should have a longer school year so they don’t lose their “edge” during a long “disruptive” break.  Since education is growing more and more into an assembly line based on “common core standards” (production qualifications) and “teaching to test”, Mark Garrison points out:

Thus, students are to be made “career and college ready” — that is, market ready, ready to be consumed. The act of their consumption by “business” or the “education” industry is redefined as “opportunity”.

For those who look at the world this way, humans are no different from natural resources… Humans also become, in this model, reduced to a conduit for the exchange of capital, as various monopolies hedge their bets on the “value added” at any point in the production/consumption process.

The new Common Core Standards also eliminate fictional literature and personal narrative in favor of non-fiction dealing with information and “facts”. The hope eventually being that student essays will be graded by computers searching for patterns.

I myself, am part of that “weak culture”, I guess, (so categorized by James Davison Hunter) that looks to the past rather the “vibrant future” ahead.

Summer reading was when school got out in May and the warm unstructured months stretched out endlessly before you.   You walked to the library and the assault on the senses upon entering was intoxicating.  There was the good old smell of books… paper, not new and crisp but comfortably established. This was because of the higher temperatures and humidity (think Midwest) than during the school year and the daunting number of stacks beckoned one in. Leafing through satisfying pages at the tables grounded you in possibilities.  There were summer posters, not educational, but well, “summery”.  Bugs, Flowers, Bees.  The peaceful quiet weighed heavily.  The best part was you didn’t have to be there.

I remember getting fiction books- mostly (I love to say it!) lowbrow Nancy Drew mysteries and later Rosamund de Jardin  romances (Toby Heydon and Marcy Rhodes), and of course the now elevated classics (I didn’t know the difference or care) like My Friend , Flicka , the Little House books, National Velvet etc.  There are so many I don’t remember.  But I know that as I left with my arms loaded, summer reading was one of the things I loved most. It soothed my childhood soul.