Diane Ravitch v. Tim Shanahan: Informational or Literary Text

  • informational texts Common Core State Standards
  • 17 January, 2013

Yesterday, I debated the literature-informational text mix recommended by Common Core with Diane Ravitch on Minnesota Public Radio. Not a bad discussion all in all. A few observations:

(1) Press and media are starting to get wise to the fact that the common core does NOT require that we diminish literature in the curriculum, but they still want a contention hook as the price of admission for their attention to common core.

(2) Many of the observers up in arms over this issue claim that literary interpretation transfers to all other life pursuits. Thus, if you can read Ulysses, you will have no problem with DNA, microchip design, or relativity; or if you want to invent you must be imaginative, and you can't be imaginative unless you read fiction or poetry (I know the latter would surprise many scientists and engineers who do an awful lot of the world's inventing, but are usually a little low on things literary). Literature reading is, indeed, valuable, but so is science and history reading.

Here is the recording of our Public Radio discussion:


See what others have to say about this topic.

doctordea Jun 19, 2017 11:32 PM


Just listened to the broadcast. Interesting. Of course, House on Mango Street would be more than acceptable, it is embraced through Appendix A. Seems like neither the interviewer or Diane are too familiar with the Appendices. And loved the parting commenter who noted her children when allowed self-selection always chose nonfiction. I am an English teacher with advanced degrees in literature and linguistics and as a young reader, I always chose nonfiction. My taste for fiction evolved and now...back to informational/professional texts.

Timothy Shanahan Jun 19, 2017 11:32 PM



Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. I love literature, but am a history and biography junkie myself. In any event, if we decided what kind of books to read in school based on student choices, we'd likely require much less literature than Diane or I believe would be appropriate.


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Diane Ravitch v. Tim Shanahan: Informational or Literary Text


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