Saturday, September 15, 2012

Common Core or Uncommonly Curious?

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. ~ Einstein

As any of my cohorts in education are aware, the new buzzword/best practice/bandwagon du jour is Common Core Standards. After an initial superficial glance, I was thrilled that it seemed so much more realistic than No Child Left Behind. Ask any educator in the trenches, and they can tell you that they knew NCLB was doomed from the start.  

Ask any educator . . .  there's the rub. I am starting to question that actual educators working with actual students are ever involved in these conversations. And I worry that Common Core is sliding down that same slippery slope. I spent a good part of our Performing Arts PLC (Professional Learning Community) collaboration time this week in highly engaged dialogue with my colleagues about the value - or lack thereof - of the Common Core Standards and our place in the teaching of same. I played devil's advocate on behalf of Common Core, but I heard the dissenting voice of one of my colleagues, and it gave me pause. This same colleague then forwarded a link to an article in the Washington Post on the topic, and I am engaged in a grand pause, if you will, where Common Core is concerned. It is a good article - you should read it (Eight Problems with Common Core Standards). Bear in mind, I haven't yet taken the time to fact check the claim that "the Common Core was written with insufficient public dialogue or feedback from experienced educators." But if true, I'm ready to raise the red flag of concern.

I won't list all eight of the problems offered by the author of the article - please be curious enough to read the whole thing - but I will share a few that raised my eyebrows and my interest.

#3 - The Common Core Standards assume that what kids need to know is covered by one or another of the traditional core subjects. In fact the unexplored intellectual terrain lying between and beyond those familiar fields of study is vast, expands by the hour, and will go in directions no one can predict.

#4 - . . . the main reason for poor student performance is being ignored - a level of childhood poverty the consequences of which no amount of schooling can effectively counter.

#8 - . . . The young should be exploring the potentials of humanness.

I have a lot of friends who are teachers - really, really good teachers. Not a one of us minds being accountable for what we teach. None of us minds hearing about a new "best practice" that might meet the needs of our students. But we see these varying assessment programs come and go all the time, and many of them are the same program with a new name, rolling around again. They roll in, turning all of our professional growth and preparation time upside down in an effort to educate us as to how we may conform to the new program and have that conformity affirmed by our assessment scores. It doesn't leave kids much time to be curious. Did I miss something? Isn't learning about first being curious?

I was ready to jump on the bandwagon, but I'm going to have to think about this some more. I know how to "play the assessment game," and I will do it to the best of my ability if given no choice. But what I really love to do . . . is teach. Wish someone would create a bandwagon for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment