Why Christians Should Care about New Literacy Standards

While many people object to the Common Core standards in part or in whole, Christians should favor any educational reform that pushes higher reading standards.

Image
Photo Credit: commoncorestandards.org

The Common Core State Standards attempt to wrangle the diverse education standards of each state into a “common core” of learning outcomes for every student in the nation.  According to Common Core’s mission statement, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

In her article, “The Good News of Common Core: What New Literacy Standards Mean for Christians” in Christianity Today, Karen Swallow Prior describes the importance of sharp literacy skills for Christians as “people of the book.”

For while the development of reading skills is essential to college and career readiness (the mission of the College Board and the goal of Common Core), no one more than evangelicals can appreciate the importance to a people and a culture of the ability to read, and read well—or the devastating effects of being unable to do so.

From the carving of God’s commandments on stone tablets to the narratives and letters circulated within the early church, from the painstaking preservation of the scriptures at the hands of medieval scribes to the Protestant Reformation’s birthing of the printing press and the invention of the modern university, ours has been a faith centered on the Word—and words.

Read the rest of her article here.

Why Literacy Is Essential for the Christian

In the small, rural town where I used to teach I actually met pastors who were semi-illiterate.  This fact doesn’t cast aspersions on the sincerity of their faith but, according to 1 Timothy 2:2, a pastor must be “able to teach”.  How can a man teach unless he is able to read Christ’s teachings?

Similarly, the Bible commends the believers who measured the preacher’s words against the written words of Scripture. “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Of all the academic skills a student must learn, the ability to read well should be paramount for Christians.

Prioritize Reading Skills

First, Christians must prioritize reading skills for their children. Any parent can help their child improve his or her reading skills.  If you have young kids, here are a few of my favorite literacy resources:

In addition to the above resources, reading with your child (or anyone else who needs help!) just a few minutes a day can kindle a passion for reading.  Take your students to the local library and reward them for completing books and demonstrating comprehension.

Foster Your Own Love of Reading

Second, the best reading teacher is one who loves to read.  Make sure you’re always reading.  And read books.  Magazines and blogs are all right, but a quality book requires sustained concentration and in-depth analytical skills to trace an author’s argument or story from the first to the final chapter.

I recently went around my house perusing all the bookcases and made a prioritized list of books I wanted to read.  I want to read some books in depth, for others I just selected one or two chapters to explore.  So one of the biggest obstacles  I faced to reading–not knowing what I wanted to read–has been removed.  Now I always know what I want to read, and I’m comfortable knowing what I’m not reading.

Act to Ensure that All Students Can Read

Third, Christians should act to ensure all students have access to a high quality reading curriculum.  That means Christians should engage with their local public schools to see how their church and her members might serve.  I recently saw an article where a congregation partnered with a school to help them improve literacy results by nearly 20%.

For all the ideological objections Christians may level against public education, few initiatives are more fundamental to making disciples of Christ than improving a person’s ability to read and understand all words, especially the words of the Bible.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8

2 thoughts on “Why Christians Should Care about New Literacy Standards

  1. Jemar,

    Unfortunately, you have a huge Christian homeschooling population out there that is actively campaigning AGAINST the Common Core. I homeschool my daughter and use several homeschool sites as resources. They are stirring up opposition to the CC as a backlash against federal government involvement (i.e., President Obama, who had nothing to do with them except like them) and they are creating fear that the CC will be a way for the government to somehow intrude on the rights of homeschoolers.

    Add to that the opposition by teachers relative to the aligned testing, with backing by big names such as Diane Ravitch, and the hew and cry is becoming so loud that it is of no surprise that some states are beginning to pull back from the CC standards.

    Having read the standards for Grades 3 and 4, I found nothing to be frightened about. They seem very reasonable and worthy of trying to achieve for all students. Although I have not read the standards for every grade level, I have still read 100% more than most people (other than the teachers) who are taking a stand against it.

    We’ll see what happens.

    1. Cindy,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree that many people, including evangelical Christians, should be taking much more initiative to learn about current and proposed education reforms. I actually don’t see much that is new or novel about the literacy standards. What is different is simply the attempt to create consistent standards across the states.

      I appreciate you reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s