The crankiest, most literate man still alive--the critic Harold Bloom, perhaps my last, true intellectual love--is forever wailing that literary irony is dead. But Harold, you're wrong. From the Washington Post:
The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly "informational text" instead of fictional literature. But as teachers excise poetry and classic works of fiction from their classrooms, those who designed the guidelines say it appears that educators have misunderstood them.
To be fair, the Post does quote David Coleman, the pedagogic inspiration (excuse the contradiction) behind the new guidelines:
The standards explicitly say that Shakespeare and classic American literature should be taught.... "It does really concern me that these facts are not as clear as they should be," [said Coleman].
The Post also notes, however, and seemingly with no little contempt, that the above-referenced "facts" are "spelled out in a footnote on page 5 of the 66-page standards."
So a directive intended to clearly articulate new guidelines for better comprehension has utterly botched both its articulation and any hope for the reader's comprehension. Is this any wonder, though? The incomprehensible density and impenetrable jargon of most pedagogic materials make the Army Training Manual read like Tolstoy.
Good heavens. And these people are the invisible hand behind the teaching of our children. Good heavens.