Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Issues Around the Common Core

There is an article in the Washington Post here describing the issues people are starting to understand around mandating the Common Core for the whole country.  It’s a really interesting article.  Here is my response to it.

I’m speaking as a high school English teacher for 37 years.

The Common Core is in trouble because it attempts to shortcut ed. reform.  It is somewhat equivalent to putting a six-year-old in a high school varsity soccer game.  “Just do it!” we tell him.  We know that is ridiculous.  It’s takes years, careful coaching, and a love of the sport to produce top soccer players.

You want a six-year-old to graduate from high school with excellent academic skills? Start when he’s six by making sure he is in a small class with a well-trained teacher who has the expertise, and freedom, and respect, to structure learning in the best way for that child.  Make sure that teacher has plenty of money for books and other supplies.  Make sure she has good social services support so she can easily get help for children who are hungry or sick or in distress because of family situations.

Improving schools isn’t rocket science.  Essentially, we need schools to create the kind of enriched environment that our top students enjoy in their homes.  We need to help kids develop a love and habit of reading.  We need kids to be excited about learning.  Then advanced reading skills and good critical thinking skills will come.

Turning schools into test prep centers is going in exactly the wrong direction.  It’s like taking that six-year-old soccer player, making him do little except drills during practice, assigning hours of skill practice at home, and then wondering why he hates soccer, and is so lousy at it.

This teacher has a great blog looking at educational research:

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