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tv   Discussion on Beach Books  CSPAN  February 29, 2016 1:30am-3:01am EST

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vacation in mexico to pick up a heavy book for his beach reading of the life of an 18th century immigrant. he emerged from his reading that is now the hottest ticket on broadway called hamilton. that play is widely noted with the exact fidelity to the historical facts. said each book is not light
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reading it could kick up a lot of sand but as it happens the top five most designed common reading for a college freshman was also a book about the obstacles overcome by an immigrant in the shorter which offers a harrowing account of a 15 year-old honduran boy who makes his way to mexico and across the texas border at laredo the book contrast that his journey is written at a level appropriate for fifth graders. so welcome to the launch of the new edition of "beach books" this is signed by
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colleges and universities to their incoming freshman class's summer 2014 and 2015. we have speakers to break a champagne bottle and later we'll hear from the executive director of first conceived of the reading programs to establish the subjects that the professors and the general public didn't take seriously. ken and dr. randall who's ph.d. and joins the national association of scholars in his first assignment to put
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together the breeding programs with a coherent analysis he didn't astonishing amount of work the last two months but the keynote speaker is a professor of english from memory former director of research for the national endowment of the arts and senior editor. and is one of the stonewalls of the society with the mediocrity if they shape the mind of the generation is a matter of urgent concern. but the professor can explain that much better
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than i. [applause] six. >> thanks for coming. is not happy news to speak about higher education as an english teacher the belt the reading choices made by i the colleges every year. but here i will lay out the background why colleges even have those programs out all? with the problems and what the programs can run all year long. it has been a few weeks and those under oriented so it
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is a long process. the unwanted to be extended experience. why? a dozen graduate from high school to be admitted to the institution with this extra reading and we will see that is one of the issues over the summer but briefly how i choose three major problems in the ec with their incoming students it is not those selective institutions
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but one is that they read one book. is no common reading in american life in general or in the school curriculum. so i ask students in a class if i referred to a book of american literature maybe two or three of the 20 students have read and write "the great gatsby" the most popular is "to kill a mockingbird" probably the most popular novel chosen in high-school and that is about 20% this says the
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condition of american life as 150 years in the schools and not of the schools everybody knew the bible was everywhere. political discourse. school. american primer as biblical verses. you would hear it read it in church truck bed dinner table so i actually have mind american literature students read portions of genesis and leviticus which is important at the time of the founding. in the sermon on the mound.
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president obama in the first inaugural said time to put away childish things. that is not serving on the mound. that is later. [laughter] >>. >> with the 20th century public-school to the more secular there is the fairly common core curriculum in the 11th or 12th you have a set of american words that most students would read with short stories and
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walt whitman and emerson and "huckleberry finn" and hemingway and we know what happened in multiculturalism cable long to break that up in that promise was we would have those works with the much richer set of traditions in nurture by the authors this would build greater knowledge said they would know to go along with other traditions but that isn't what happened. instead of having a bigger tradition it was all over the place. teachers are largely allowed to select their own works
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common core does not have required reading list. predella to tell people what to read. this tells the kid is telling people what to do. so it leaves us with citizens who have not read a common book and the problem is if they don't have some cultural things in common you cannot build a culture tonight talk about community often it's one of the ways to have a community is if people have read the same things have the same cultural background fifth time but it is a lack of any common reading that the
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program tries to address. never to students still like to read there don't read very much on their own. it's the they don't have a common reading assignment in school you can mention harry potter that they know if not they have seen the movies sieve. but they don't read very much ma'am on their own. from the 2014 american freshmen survey of very large survey projects housed at ucla going back to the mid-60s the first-year students coming into four year colleges not to year or vocational they are
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baccalaureate institutions the rate of reading pleasure how many hours? the largest cohort 31% said none nearly one-third never read for pleasure. less than one hour were 24% when the two hours a week is 22%. so three-quarters a reading is a negligible like to be a best. pages to read many books on their own at all. you into the world in which to have to read books him and of college would rip up
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the reading requirement on its own budget goes through a few pages which you had a time you'll be on your own if you drop out there will no in the larger class is there is no babysitting for pope if you just disappear nobody would know you have to know how to accustom yourself to spend time with it and live with the book over time. it is harder and harder to use a sign the book more than to hundred pages it doesn't go with the rhythms of their life you cannot read this thing go back it does not work at the college level so one program tries
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to get them to be more bookish. some say because they don't have time because they have so many hours of homework. this is for the american freshman cervezas homework. not how many hours they are a solid and but how much the actually do. per week for your college students less than in two hours a week. [laughter] between three by five hours 37%. remember between six and 10 but most were two hours of study time sewed hour a day
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for nearly 60 percent of for your college students? it is not a homer that takes away reading minutes. of it isn't making them less a bookish colleges are partly grated on retention in dropouts are very bad. accreditation issues can't come into place a there is pressure to keep the students on campus. his head and adding one more factor you don't read on your order do that much homework the knowledge level
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that students coming to college with is abysmal. it isn't just their reading skills last year is 80 reading scores the lowest in 40 years. act college readiness is only 46 percent. that means they can get the be dash and a freshman english class most will get a letter c or below. the writing test in 2005 that the scores have gone down every single year except the two years it was flat. so this is what is happening with the s.a.t. scores.
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this is the nation's report card giving 12th graders in content areas of geography only 20%. in u.s. history only 12 percent. was 624%. to refer to the french revolution in for some reason or thomas jefferson i have to explain what that is taken not just assume that they have that historical civic knowledge. so you select a book that has a lot of knowledge that a company's debt.
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so give them something about the french revolution that will carry over. [laughter] you want to select a book that is knowledge rich. and to fill out the gap. and that is what the one program will do. >> thanks for coming in on the night they are predicting snow. thanks for hosting as. i do want to give some background.
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getting started in 2010 by a faculty member telling me about a book to his college was of siding with common reading and i didn't know what this was a way to the dow lot of other colleges for doing this and there were 300 around the country advertising that they have this one book for college freshman. so we put together this list so we came up with subject categories what the book focused on end read gave our own analysis end we started of list of recommended titles colleges could pick from as books for next year
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in the of programs were of the rise. and wondering if we go to one place and unknowingly we created something that is now the ago to source now at the national conference faculty members come to a san sitting on committees. included every common reading that we could find. and it has taken on a life of its own. and for those to coordinate common reading programs we
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want students to genuinely love reading but they are concerned with community to see there is a lack of intellectual community but they get stuck using templates and better now acted the way the programs are run. and to select the book by popular vote to a set of those that are well read and they don't assess if they have read the book and they always try to bring the author to speak on campus but it limits them to only choosing contemporary books.
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a genuinely -- generally don't think outside the box of other colleges are doing. to but to think outside the of fox is to design classic books the under represented items in classics and thinking a generous way. , but like what mark was talking about mark twain or agusta and. or works that has stood the test of time and still considered important to values. so those coordinators have given brushback because they
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don't want to was nine books better classics. end to know the very best pages judges instead another 25 but i hope is to say yes it is possible to choose more difficult and challenging and better books and still accomplish what you want to do with these programs. one of the objections i have heard because if it isn't for a great if they don't like the books i want read it. so pick a book that they like so our job is to find out what they want to read than assign them. in principle it is a good
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idea but in the long run that doesn't help them because whole reason people go to college is said is staying home to read the books you like is to have your mind informed by those who know more then you do. another push back is of classics are elitist and for the privilege. and to that i say it is a privilege to get to read these books and we should give them to as many people as speaking in. especially those that take the trouble to go to college , we hear about giving more access to higher education. if we really want to give people access sine to open their world that is truly hire, in this edition we
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have guessed essays by those who agree with m&a s coming for different angles. one is the creator of the great books curriculum that has been used across the country and community colleges. he was shown anyone can benefit from and enjoy the great books. the other is a professor of english at skidmore college. she has an estate of a liberal feminist she lets books cool for awhile and then let them prove themselves over time before assigning them is common reading and also sheathings colleges are trying to accomplish too much with one book can common reading
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programs should be re-evaluated required grateful to have these conversations through these last few years with this project and now i will pass the colleague -- the baton to a colleague. i am glad to see that he noticed things that i have not yet noticed. [applause] >> i would also like to add things to those who made this possible. also into everybody at m&a s -- nas thanks for everything they have done.
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i have been talking a lot about these books to everybody is my nonstop talking conversation. and just today i had a conversation with someone who had a common reading in 1967 he was assigned adventures of ideas. in history of intellect combined with the effect of that history in general. [laughter] this was considered a reasonable common reading. for of a fairly common readings a nonfiction account of the troubles of
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trash. we have too much trash. you have a graphic now more of john lewis in admirable million but it is written a fourth grade level. we have the journey mentioned earlier the counter the illegal immigrant and it is meant to influence current policy. index is a very fine novel about videogames. but i would not have thought of it as a book for college.
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in the circle'' will make you a pair read about the invasion of privacy. there is a worthy message but is not the type of book you put it -- you would expect. so we have problems now with the common readings. and it is something about what these programs are. so they choose what is very limited and not as good as they could be. and not to what they could hope for. despite what we have been hearing with all the problems.
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