Tale of Two Standards

Nov 14, 2013 by

Some legislators believe students should spend more time in English classes learning how to read informational texts, chiefly because that is the kind of reading they will do in college and daily life.  Ironically – in the Age of Information – what we know (or what information we have access to) does not equate to what we learn.  Kids are not putting this information together but are instead relying heavily on its accessibility.  It is stifling new ideas, and we are becoming a “wiki society” of facts instead of an innovative society of concepts.  As we strip classical liberal arts out of every aspect of school curriculum, kids will no longer learn critical thinking skills of how to put this overwhelming amount of disconnected information together.  In addition – by taking away creativity – children will have lost the thirst for knowledge and discoveries and will instead want the headlines and “cliff notes” of information.

Kids today can easily find information.  Thinking, though, is a “standard” disciplined process of reviewing and analyzing information and situations – but as importantly – making a “judgment” based on observation, experience, reflection, and reasoning.  Like my mother (a retired school teacher) would say “you are not learning unless what goes in your head mixes up with everything else and comes back out for other purposes.”  The challenge for kids (and many adults) is not access to information but the challenge of making sense of it all, dealing with the complexity, finding connections, and evaluating and passing judgment on their own of the credibility of the information.  This comes from reading the classics, challenging kids’ minds, and encouraging self-education.

 

Common Core places us in bondage.

The philosophy of Common Core is to train children and to standardize what they are taught so that they are cogs in a machine and no longer thinking for themselves.  Stephanie Bell (a member of the Alabama State Board of Education) has been speaking up against the standards.  She said the standards were founded on the flawed idea that every child across America will “be on the same page at the same time.”  She explains, “Every child is created (and I thank the Lord for this) we’re all created different,” she said.  Sadly, schools under this program – instead of a “race to the top” – will find themselves in a new “race to the middle.”  Many of the standards are less rigorous that what was in place prior and – through a one-size-fits-all approach – they will gradually breed everyone towards the center and mediocrity.

It will hold good teachers hostage.  It forces a continual narrowing of the freedoms teachers have in the classroom by increasing burdensome requirements without direction on how they may accomplish them.  It puts pressure on national testing which bullies educators not only to begin teaching to test but (far worse) teaching to protect their jobs.

It holds good students hostage to the performance of the least-talented, and those eager children that entered school wanting to learn are relentlessly pounded into the submission of mediocrity.  It forces a single standardized answer to an abstract art of reading comprehension and destroys creative thought.  It punishes originality and rewards conformity and stifles the child’s desire to read and learn.

 

The answer will not and should not come from Washington, D.C. or your state capital.  It is not in additional funding and further untested, untried regulations and standards.  The answer will come from the classrooms and from the homes.  Educators have been sold a set of goods that takes away their ability to teach.  Moms and parents have been stripped of their responsibility to impact their children’s education.

If things are to change, that change will begin in the classroom.  It will be the teachers and parents rising up and demanding their classrooms back.  Education does not need to be centralized but rather local.  Educating our youth is a family and community and local issue, and we need to fight together as educators and parents to once again make schooling local.  Concerned people of all political persuasions need to call for a complete revision of these damaging national standards.

English curriculum must look at not only stopping the dangerous advancement of these new Common Core standards but bringing back classics and liberal arts education into the classroom and children’s experience.  Teachers need to be given the freedom to teach and students need to be given the freedom to discover new worlds, times, and people through literature.  If ever there was a time when we should be emphasizing education (more than memorizing facts or training kids for specific jobs), if ever there was a time for the liberal arts and self-education, it is now!

Tale of Two Standards – Brush Fire Forum.

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