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(The New Republic)   According to Common Core, "The Hunger Games" is a more complex and worthy piece of literature than "The Grapes of Wrath"   (newrepublic.com) divider line 148
    More: Stupid, Common Core, The Hunger Games, school curricula, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, U.S. Department of Education, English professor, Slaughterhouse Five, Common Core State Standards  
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4178 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Nov 2013 at 1:36 PM (44 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-06 01:34:58 PM
I'm not saying that "The Hunger Games" is a great piece of literature, but I find it difficult to criticize any measurement system that so aptly categorizes Steinbeck as a hack.
 
2013-11-06 01:38:25 PM
I don't think that dumbs things down quite enough to be common core related.
 
2013-11-06 01:40:54 PM
If they mean "needlessly complicated" like lots of other bad sci-fi, then Hunger Games certainly wins.
 
2013-11-06 01:41:57 PM
Reading the Grapes of Wrath was excruciating. I am not quite sure why it is so highly revered to this day.
 
2013-11-06 01:42:20 PM
Suggestion for this thread:  unless you've read both books, shut up.

I'm out.
 
2013-11-06 01:42:23 PM
Federal Bureaucrats

Stopped reading there.
 
2013-11-06 01:43:37 PM
To be fair, both the creators of the Common Core and MetaMetrix admit these standards can't stand as the final measure of complexity. As the Common Core Standards Initiative officially puts it, "until widely available quantitative tools can better account for factors recognized as making such texts challenging, including multiple levels of meaning and mature themes, preference should likely be given to qualitative measures of text complexity when evaluating narrative fiction intended for students in grade 6 and above." But even here, the final goal is a more complex algorithm; qualitative measurement fills in as a flawed stopgap.

Leave it to an English professor to ignore what the authors of something actually said in favor of what he wants it to mean.
 
2013-11-06 01:43:51 PM

the money is in the banana stand: Reading the Grapes of Wrath was excruciating. I am not quite sure why it is so highly revered to this day.

 
2013-11-06 01:43:57 PM
OK, I lied.  FTA:

To be fair, both the creators of the Common Core and MetaMetrix admit these standards can't stand as the final measure of complexity.

Subby, you are a lying piece of shiat.
 
2013-11-06 01:44:08 PM
It will probably be regarded well long term as something reflective of the pessimism of the early 2000s, just as Grapes of Wrath was for the Great Depression. That said, they are hardly comparable as the authors, context, genres, and purpose of both are vastly different.

Any comparing of X book is better than Y is typically a silly argument best reserved for those who are unfortunate enough to have bought into Literary Criticism as something valuable to anything other than closed system of professors making busy work arguments for themselves. Pay them no mind and enjoy each book for what it is.
 
2013-11-06 01:44:46 PM
Really? Then how's the Japanese novel Steinbeck was ripping off?
 
2013-11-06 01:45:20 PM
Hunger Games isn't even a remotely original concept.
 
2013-11-06 01:46:04 PM
God forbid we encourage our children read something they might enjoy. No, we must force them to dredge through the works of 19th century authors who got paid by the word, or 15th century playwrights whose language is incomprehensible to modern English-speaking youth.
 
2013-11-06 01:46:45 PM
I guess Arnold's Running Man movie beats out Shakespeare then. The book is a friggin masterpiece compared to the utter trash on bookshelves today but is easily beat out by all of the good, old school science fiction.
 
2013-11-06 01:47:02 PM

the money is in the banana stand: Reading the Grapes of Wrath was excruciating. I am not quite sure why it is so highly revered to this day.


You forget, we weren't always a a precious snowflake culture
We used to temper our children in the fires of abuse to make them strong.
 
2013-11-06 01:47:19 PM
Where did "A Shore Thing"... the book Snooki wrote come in ?
 
2013-11-06 01:47:43 PM

Wendy's Chili: God forbid we encourage our children read something they might enjoy. No, we must force them to dredge through the works of 19th century authors who got paid by the word, or 15th century playwrights whose language is incomprehensible to modern English-speaking youth.


tldr
 
2013-11-06 01:48:44 PM

Lucky LaRue: I'm not saying that "The Hunger Games" is a great piece of literature, but I find it difficult to criticize any measurement system that so aptly categorizes Steinbeck as a hack.


Done in one.
 
2013-11-06 01:48:55 PM
Common Core is not necessarily a bad metric so long as you recognize that it doesn't tell you much in isolation.  Like any metric that you use to grade literary complexity that is purely mechanical, it only looks at the vocabulary and grammar complexity, not the complexity of ideas.

The Sun Also Rises, one of the examples in TFA, rates very low on the lexile index because it's written to the same standards as a newspaper article.  The words themselves are very easy to get through.  But its ideas and themes are far too complex/adult for the 3rd-grade reading level necessary to parse the sentences and vocabulary.  It's appropriate for 9th or 10th graders, but much younger than that will not be able to comprehend the full picture of what's going on, despite being able to read and understand individual sentences.

By the way, New Republic -- these standards aren't published by "Federal Bureaucrats".  They're put forth by a task force of cooperating state governments.  Do your damned research.
 
2013-11-06 01:49:42 PM
I haven't read either so I got that going for me I guess.
 
2013-11-06 01:49:50 PM

hitlersbrain: I guess Arnold's Running Man movie beats out Shakespeare then. The book is a friggin masterpiece compared to the utter trash on bookshelves today but is easily beat out by all of the good, old school science fiction.


What you mean the 12 Mass Effect books, 30 Gears of War books, and hundreds of Halo books for sale in my local bookstore aren't good books?
 
2013-11-06 01:49:52 PM
http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf

Lexile measures are intended to gauge the difficulty of the vocabulary and sentence structure, ie how difficult it is to actually read the material.  By that measure, Twain, Steinbeck, and Hemingway are largely going to be easier to read than other works of literature.  The CC standards explicitly state that such a quantitative measures are insufficient by themselves for choosing appropriate reading materail for students in grade 6 and above.

But heaven forbid we shouldn't force children to read what we read when we were kids.  Making them read Huckleberry Finn, which many of them will have difficulty relating to, is clearly going to be better for their overall education than reading something more modern that might actually engage them and using that as a starting point to discuss the concepts of what makes good/bad literature.
 
d23 [TotalFark]
2013-11-06 01:50:36 PM
Oh yeah:  well I did MY thesis on THIS!

www.films-horreur.com

bonus:

www.ukhorrorscene.com
 
2013-11-06 01:51:29 PM
I will hug her and pet her and squeeze her and I will name her Katniss.
 
2013-11-06 01:52:36 PM
She completely left sex out the Hunger Games. Enough said.
 
2013-11-06 01:52:57 PM
Mark me down as someone who enjoyed the Grapes of Wrath, and all the other Steinbeck I've read. I also loved his nonfiction Travels with Charley. He's earned his place among the top authors, IMO.

Haven't read Hunger Games.
 
2013-11-06 01:53:07 PM
Remember that time what people who spent their whole lives writing over-complicated analyses of the meanings of books decided what was appropriate for children to learn?

//Actually, I'm just participating in the more-cynical-than-thou" game.
 
2013-11-06 01:54:27 PM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: Leave it to an English professor to ignore what the authors of something actually said in favor of what he wants it to mean.


While that may be what they intended people love simple numbers and rankings so if you give them that it is all they will pay attention to. Another part of the article says:

Last week the Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued a report on the Common Core standards that should give parents, teachers, and lovers of literature serious pause: it found that "many youngsters are not yet working with appropriately complex language in their schoolbooks," and mainstream media outlets quickly jumped on board to sound the alarm:  teachers are failing to assign the challenging books demanded by the Common Core.

So even though the people who make the damn standard say it shouldn't be the end all be all the media is treating it as the end all be all. Just like they did with standardized testing. This article is right to point out that people shouldn't panic over books not matching a score that is only part of the big picture.
 
2013-11-06 01:55:06 PM
The reason a piece of literature should be taught to students has almost nothing to do with if it is "better" as literature than another piece. 

The reason a piece of literature should be taught to students is that it offers a perspective that engages the student and expands their understanding of the world through the experience of the written word as art, and does so as well or better than some other option. 

The reason Shakespeare is timeless is because the base themes speak to something that transcends time and place.  The reason  The Jungle fell out of favor through the later half of the 20th century is because the common experience was not one of deprivation at the hands of soulless corporate overlords. The reason  The Jungle is being re-introduced in many schools is because it is starting to speak to the average person again.
 
2013-11-06 01:55:20 PM

keypusher: OK, I lied.  FTA:

To be fair, both the creators of the Common Core and MetaMetrix admit these standards can't stand as the final measure of complexity.

Subby, you are a lying piece of shiat.


Yep. The "complexity" scoring is a pure quantitative measurement -- sentence length, familiarity of vocabulary, etc. It does not purport to evaluate or weigh thematic complexity, symbolism, or literary merit, and makes no judgments whatsoever as to "worthiness." All it is saying is "6th graders are more likely to recognize most of the words in "Grapes of Wrath" than they are in "Hunger Games" or "Steinbeck writes in shorter or less complex sentences than Suzanne Collins." It is not saying "Hunger Games is a better book than Grapes of Wrath."
 
2013-11-06 01:56:42 PM

d23: Oh yeah:  well I did MY thesis on THIS!

[www.films-horreur.com image 450x600]

bonus:

[www.ukhorrorscene.com image 385x222]


userserve-ak.last.fm
"Why you even bringing that up? I hadn't even heard of that wack-ass 'Battle Royal' garbage 'til after I wrote 'Hunger Games.' Word to your mother."
 
2013-11-06 01:58:06 PM
In the genre of sci-fi with heroines who have fashion sense, The Hunger Games has no equal.
 
2013-11-06 01:58:07 PM

the money is in the banana stand: Reading the Grapes of Wrath was excruciating. I am not quite sure why it is so highly revered to this day.


Literature is not defined simply by how entertaining it is. I will be the first to admit that there is a tendency to over analyze the cannon of English literature when some works were simply popular entertainment (think Shakespeare) written by insightful and gifted authors, but there is no requirement of populous entertainment when objectively defining great literature.
 
2013-11-06 01:58:07 PM
Eh... whatever the kids want to read, as long as they are reading.  It is good with me. You've got to have some years under your belt before you get anything out of Steinbeck anyway.
 
2013-11-06 01:58:35 PM

odinsposse: Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: Leave it to an English professor to ignore what the authors of something actually said in favor of what he wants it to mean.

While that may be what they intended people love simple numbers and rankings so if you give them that it is all they will pay attention to. Another part of the article says:

Last week the Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued a report on the Common Core standards that should give parents, teachers, and lovers of literature serious pause: it found that "many youngsters are not yet working with appropriately complex language in their schoolbooks," and mainstream media outlets quickly jumped on board to sound the alarm:  teachers are failing to assign the challenging books demanded by the Common Core.

So even though the people who make the damn standard say it shouldn't be the end all be all the media is treating it as the end all be all. Just like they did with standardized testing. This article is right to point out that people shouldn't panic over books not matching a score that is only part of the big picture.


And that, unfortunately, is a good point.
 
d23 [TotalFark]
2013-11-06 01:58:39 PM

EyeballKid: d23: Oh yeah:  well I did MY thesis on THIS!

[www.films-horreur.com image 450x600]

bonus:

[www.ukhorrorscene.com image 385x222]

[userserve-ak.last.fm image 468x762]
"Why you even bringing that up? I hadn't even heard of that wack-ass 'Battle Royal' garbage 'til after I wrote 'Hunger Games.' Word to your mother."


"That beat is totally different!"
 
2013-11-06 01:59:14 PM

the money is in the banana stand: Reading the Grapes of Wrath was excruciating. I am not quite sure why it is so highly revered to this day.


Same reason Ayn Rand is hated.
 
2013-11-06 01:59:15 PM

jacjacatk: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf

Lexile measures are intended to gauge the difficulty of the vocabulary and sentence structure, ie how difficult it is to actually read the material.

 Making them read Huckleberry Finn, which many of them will have difficulty relating to


According to the lexile website "The Sound and the Fury" is at a Fourth grade reading level. It is an incredibly stupid metric, even with the disclaimer that it can't be the final standard of complexity.

By the way, there is no such disclaimer on the website. I feel sorry for the poor parent who picks out that simple to read book for their 9 year old.

And the reason kids don't relate to Huck Finn is only because idiot parents have never shown their children the meaning of the word "outdoors", "responsibility", or "independence."

Perhaps that is exactly the type of book they should be reading.
 
2013-11-06 01:59:17 PM
Sounds like someone needs to get beaten with an ax handle to fully appreciate the situation here.
 
2013-11-06 02:00:58 PM

Uzzah: keypusher: OK, I lied.  FTA:

To be fair, both the creators of the Common Core and MetaMetrix admit these standards can't stand as the final measure of complexity.

Subby, you are a lying piece of shiat.

Yep. The "complexity" scoring is a pure quantitative measurement -- sentence length, familiarity of vocabulary, etc. It does not purport to evaluate or weigh thematic complexity, symbolism, or literary merit, and makes no judgments whatsoever as to "worthiness." All it is saying is "6th graders are more likely to recognize most of the words in "Grapes of Wrath" than they are in "Hunger Games" or "Steinbeck writes in shorter or less complex sentences than Suzanne Collins." It is not saying "Hunger Games is a better book than Grapes of Wrath."


As much as I am opposed to the Common Core curriculum, I believe Uzzah has it right on this point.
 
2013-11-06 02:01:14 PM

bingethinker: If they mean "needlessly complicated" like lots of other bad sci-fi, then Hunger Games certainly wins.


Just like GoT - if you add enough pseudo European people and place names into the story and make everything somehow strategically important, eventually people give up and start speed reading for the sexy bits.

/had to stop reading GoT because of the constant mentioning of "moon blood" and "milk of the poppy".  It's on every other farking page.
 
2013-11-06 02:02:01 PM

jacjacatk: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf

Lexile measures are intended to gauge the difficulty of the vocabulary and sentence structure, ie how difficult it is to actually read the material.  By that measure, Twain, Steinbeck, and Hemingway are largely going to be easier to read than other works of literature.  The CC standards explicitly state that such a quantitative measures are insufficient by themselves for choosing appropriate reading materail for students in grade 6 and above.

But heaven forbid we shouldn't force children to read what we read when we were kids.  Making them read Huckleberry Finn, which many of them will have difficulty relating to, is clearly going to be better for their overall education than reading something more modern that might actually engage them and using that as a starting point to discuss the concepts of what makes good/bad literature.


Bad example. Huckleberry Finn was just as intensely read in my Mississippi high school as The Colour Purple the year that movie was released.
 
d23 [TotalFark]
2013-11-06 02:02:23 PM

Slutter McGee: And the reason kids don't relate to Huck Finn is only because idiot parents have never shown their children the meaning of the word "outdoors", "responsibility", or "independence."


Huck Finn is a great way to see how shallow the parents are.  Shallow parents will get angry because of the use of the n word.  Knowledgeable parents will know that Jim is the smartest person in the novel and that the book is about as far from racist you can get.
 
2013-11-06 02:02:45 PM
I read Tom Sawyer recently and I'm going to go ahead and assume it's comparably complex as Huckleberry Finn:
The writing style is intentionally simplified in order to mimic the thought process and worldview of a largely uneducated teenage boy (though largely with corrected grammar).  It shouldn't be complex enough to be challenging to a 9th grader.  In fact, by then the concepts and themes of Tom Sawyer should be immature to them.  The book is far better suited to a 6th or 7th grader (similar ages to the characters) and even then would require a history lesson to appreciate.

/Read the Old Man and the Sea when I was 5, thought it sucked
//Read it again at 20, still f*cking boring
///Currently reading "Wealth of Nations"
 
2013-11-06 02:02:59 PM
It's not that I think Hunger Games is any great piece of lit (I keep it on my e-reader with all of my other "fast food" types of books), but I'm not so much a Steinbeck gal so I'm ok with the knock.

/3 printed books and a couple of F&SF magazines currently on the table
//I like to read
///I  like to read *a lot*
 
2013-11-06 02:04:16 PM

JollyMagistrate: It will probably be regarded well long term as something reflective of the pessimism of the early 2000s, just as Grapes of Wrath was for the Great Depression. That said, they are hardly comparable as the authors, context, genres, and purpose of both are vastly different.


I don't think it reflects a pessimism so much as it's part of a trend of literature emphasizing the accomplishments and special nature of the individual and the struggle of the individual against the inherently malicious government. Hunger Games continues a lot of the themes seen in Harry Potter. Mostly I think that formula is easy to write and sells well to tweens.

Grapes of Wrath on the other hand was a slog to get through just to reach some religious imagery and social commentary that requires a course in early 20th century American history to understand. At least Shakespeare threw in a dick joke every once in a while.
 
2013-11-06 02:06:45 PM

doubled99: Hunger Games isn't even a remotely original concept.


Almost nothing is.
 
2013-11-06 02:07:19 PM
It's measuring the complexity of:
- sentence structure
- vocabulary

That's it. It is  not measuring worth, morality, validity, ideas, or philosophical importance.

It's an automated way to answer the question "based on what students generally know of grammar and vocabulary, what's the earliest grade level which would be appropriate to consider introducing this text?"

Subby and the author can stab themselves in the eye with a fountain pen.
 
2013-11-06 02:09:06 PM

Slutter McGee: According to the lexile website "The Sound and the Fury" is at a Fourth grade reading level. It is an incredibly stupid metric, even with the disclaimer that it can't be the final standard of complexity.


Finnigans Wake isn't listed on the website. Probably broke the machine.
 
2013-11-06 02:09:32 PM
All Steinbeck sucks balls.
 
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