Word of the Year 2016: ‘Post-Truth’

 

Fittingly, and somewhat depressingly, Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016 is ‘post-truth.’

In a year of politics demonstrating that feelings count as facts, the Oxford Dictionary defined ‘post-truth’ as “denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In the wake of Brexit, as well as the the recent U.S. presidential election, according to the Casper Grathwohl of Oxford Dictionaries:

“It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse… Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time.”

Some argue the fault lies in the way we curate our own ‘bubbles’ of news and social media. But I’d add that the foothold gained by ‘post-truth’ is directly linked to the way we have come to teach ‘reading’ in today’s schools. A particular consequence of standardized testing is a renewed emphasis on close reading—which prioritizes evaluating a text based on its own internal logic rather than reading critically in terms of context, authorship, and counter narratives. Want to fight post-truth? Educate. Refuse to accept or promote single story narratives that say there is only one lens through which to understand the world, events, or groups of people. Read. Really Read. Continue reading

The 12 Greatest Books of the 21st Century (So Far)

EBookreal

Last week, I started a series of posts looking at the relatively unchanged literary canon taught in American schools.

At the end of the series, I wondered if, instead of trying to cram the square-peg of a 1950’s literary curriculum into the round-hole of 21st century classrooms – what a  21st century literary canon might look like?

A friend just sent along an answer – via BBC. Just a few days ago, BBC Culture released a list of The 21st Century’s Greatest Novels (so far). They polled a few dozen literary critics, got 156 titles, and these were the top twelve:

12. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)*

11. Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)

10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)*

9. Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)

8. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012) Continue reading