Professor Anthony Esolen of Providence College is conducting a “tedious scrutiny” of the Common Core curriculum for literature and English and has termed the results “substandard,” according to a recent article in Crisis Magazine.
Esolen said that the best sample essay by far, for both style and organization, is an essay that he would never want one of his students to have written—“not in a hundred years.”
“Truth” should be the first rule of writing, according to Esolen. He stated in Crisis:
Good writing is honest and possesses those traits that are the common companions of honesty: clarity, modesty, plainness, good humor. Bad writing is dishonest and keeps company with ruffians and fools: vagueness, muddle, ostentation,self-promotion, and concealment.
The sample essay is about the economic effects of the Spanish Flu inthe United States after World War I. Esolen offers examples from the essay to show that the author of the essay (and the teacher and Common Core authors who reviewed the essay) disregard honesty in the essay. The author of the essay “pretends to know what he cannot possibly know…affects certainty without actually troubling to look at what he is certain about…puts on airs,” according to Esolen.
Esolen points out that the claims that the author makes in the essay are competing claims; they cannot all be true at once. Yet, Common Core advocates promote this essay because the “author presents ‘evidence’ for his claims,” but it doesn’t seem to matter whether “the evidence is really evidence, or whether the pieces of evidence are consistent with one another, or whether the author draws just conclusions from the evidence.”
You can read the complete Crisis Magazine essay here.
Esolen was also featured with Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly on a recent episode of EWTN’s “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo” to discuss why Catholic schools should avoid adopting or adapting the Common Core standards to their curricula.
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