The Truth About Common Core: Why Your Anger Is Misdirected
By Katie Sluiter on January 16, 2014
I would dare to bet that the Arkansas Mom is not angry that her child needs to “multiply and divide to solve word problems” in fourth grade; she is angry at the process the teacher/district/state has put in place to teach her child that standard. That is not the fault of the standard.
The CCSS do not dictate how to implement the standards.
Let me repeat that: THE CCSS DO NOT DICTATE HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE STANDARDS.
Another argument against the CCSS is that students are not learning the basics anymore. This is again, false. Instead of just memorizing rote multiplication tables (which face it, only works for some people; memorizing was not my bag and I still don’t remember them all -- and I am a graduate degree holding professional educator), they are being taught to understand the concept of what multiplication actually is.
This makes some parents angry because they simply don’t understand the concept themselves. Asking our kids to learn to think rather than memorize is not a bad thing.
The CCSS are based on higher-level thinking -- more complex thinking -- based on ideas like Bloom’s Taxonomy (see below).
The bottom of the pyramid contains the most basic thinking skills. The idea of the CCSS is to push students from rote memorization into the highest levels of analysis, evaluation, and creation.
Colleges and careers needs students to be ready to think beyond just memorized facts. They need students to be problem solvers, problem/solution analyzers, and creators.
Before you go before your school board or your legislature, do your research. Read the standards for your child’s grade and decide with whom your gripe is. If you are angry about how your child is learning, demand information on how the curriculum was chosen. Volunteer to be on committees that help choose texts and curricula for your school.
While doing my pre-writing for this post. I talked to our high school math department head and our district’s superintendent about our K-12 math curriculum. Our district uses elements from Scott Foresman and Singapore math along with a bunch of supplements because it’s been our elementary curriculum for years. We will soon re-evaluate our curriculum once we see the Smarter Balance Test (the one that aligns with the CCSS and will take the place of our current Michigan Merit Exam).
Currently at ALL teachers at all levels (K-12) in my district are working hard to gear math (and other subjects) more toward process/project-based learning to align more easily to the type of thinking the CCSS asks of our students. And we are very proud of the results we are getting.
It’s easy to look at our children’s homework and become frustrated and blame something like the CCSS -- which are the new element.
It’s easy to rant and vent all over social media.
But it’s important to be informed. Do your research. Read the standards.
Then decide what it is you are really angry about.
*For those of you new to Sluiter Nation, I am a high school and college adjunct ENGLISH teacher. I am not a math teacher. But I am a parent and as a parent it is my duty to be informed about ALL of the CCSS.
Besides being a high school English teacher and college English Adjunct Professor, Katie Sluiter has also appeared as an elite blogger for US BabyHuddle, a featured writer on Borderless News and Views, and in syndication on BlogHer. She also currently works a freelance journalist for iAquire. Her writing has appeared in the May 2013 issue of Baby Talk Magazine and in the book, Three Minus One (to be released in May 2014).
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