Review: The Story-Killers by Terrence O. Moore

I should first offer the disclaimer that I am a teacher at one of the charter schools which Dr. Moore mentions in his book and which he helped to start. Even with this personal connection, I believe my review is a fair and objective appraisal.

In this book, Moore examines the contents of the Common Core standards for literature. As I am sure most readers of this review already know, the Common Core is a new set of standards being pushed by some very big names and which claims “college and career readiness” as its ultimate aim. 

Dr. Moore does an excellent job of exposing the plethora of flaws in the Common Core standards. He demonstrates again and again the far left bias which prevails in the Common Core textbooks and the selections for literature. He also exposes the degraded pseudo-education of the Common Core in its use of so-called “informational texts” in literature classes, its lack of intellectual vigor, and its avoidance of any thorough, meaningful, insightful, and full reads of any of the great classics of Western Civilization. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Moore offers a clear and compelling argument against the very idea of “college and career readiness.” Human beings are not machines, producers, or money-makers, primarily, they are complex creatures with higher aims: goodness, truth, and beauty. The Common Core seeks to reduce human beings to something less — far less — than this, and Dr. Moore’s book is a cogent rebuttal to such dehumanization.

Also of great value in this book is Dr. Moore’s counter-proposal of what he calls a “true common core.” Throughout the book, Moore not only criticizes what is wrong with the Common Core but presents a description of just how things should be done properly, including what sorts of things should be read and what sorts of questions should be asked about what is read. Near the end of the book, Moore offers a very thorough grade-by-grade list of the types of books students should be reading in the various subjects in high school: in short, the standard texts of Western Civilization, the texts that will give the students the insight they need to succeed (not just in college and career but in thought and life more generally) in the world these classics have created and which will be fuel for contemplation for the rest of their lives if they are to live lives of value, meaning, and dignity.

The greatest drawback of this book is that it is only about the literature standards. I would be interested to see as thorough a treatment of the standards in mathematics as a companion volume to this book. In addition, Dr. Moore might be a bit verbose in this book for some, but I find the verbosity rather charming in that it never allows one to forget the importance of the subject at hand: the minds of America’s youth.

I recommend this book for teachers, for parents, and for anyone interested in the future of this nation. The education our children receive today will determine the future for them and for all of us. Dr. Moore’s book is a call to take action by not allowing the political interests of the far left and the financial interests of exceedingly wealthy business owners to determine this future.


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