Why Competency-Based Education Can Be a Reasonable Idea

Bryan O’Nolan, a high school English teacher in New Hampshire, writing under a nom-de-guerre, for The Federalist, does an enviable job of dismantling one of Jane Robbins’ traditionally false arguments that the Common Core State Standards don’t allow for classic literature or popular British texts. O’Nolan writes, “The claim that British literature has been dispensed with would shock and anger my students who just took an exam on ‘Macbeth.’ … It is true that ‘British literature’ does not appear as such in the standards. But William Shakespeare is used as an example. His work is specifically prescribed at least twice. Beyond that, nothing in the standards would discourage the teaching of British literature, either in a dedicated course or as a part of general study.” O’Nolan also mocks how Robbins uses a link in her piece to an appendix from the Common Core State Standards, which suggests several of the most prominent British writers in history to be used as potential teaching tools. As O’Nolan suggests, “How the inclusion of these writers as ideal examples of literature to be taught can be construed as an abandonment of British literature is beyond me.” We could pile on here, but as this high school teacher aptly notes about Robbins’ conspiracy writing, “In a house with so rickety a foundation, it’s not worth your time to critique the walk-in closet in the master bedroom.”