Common Core Standards. Common Core Problem
Until you read it.
And then you realise it's far from fudgy, but not in a good way. It's one of the most prescriptive curriculum outlines you could have asked for, and clearly few educators have touched it, seen it, or passed their metaphorical red pens over it in the drafting stage. Worse still, the conditions under which it is being adopted are, how do you put it, totalitarian. Susan Ohanian explains what's wrong in a superb piece at the Huff Post:
…How about Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800), presented as an Exemplar Text, for 9th graders? When I grappled with Wordsworth's great principle of emotion recollected in tranquility as a grad student, I figured I had only myself to blame.
According to the Burlington Free Press account, both Obama and Douglas offered toasts with glasses of water. One can only wonder what the people devising the Common Core were drinking. The Exemplar Text lists offered as an appendix to the Common Core are baffling -- and ludicrous -- at every grade level.In order to qualify for the pots of money President Obama is eager to hand out, states must accept 100 percent of the Common Core standards document. They cannot pick and choose. Exercising any judgment based on what teachers and parents know about kids and about literature is forbidden.
i) if you're wanting to change education you've got to involve education from the start. And, even when you think you've done enough collaboration, add a bit more: Scotland's curriculum has been in the making for at least eight years and still people want more time to reflect on what it means for them. The mistake we're making, I think, is not just getting on with it and tweaking as we go. Scotland has a problem with not "releasing early, releasing often" (in theory, at least - I think of the hundreds/thousands of educators I know about who have been teaching along these lines for years);
ii) curricula are there to provide framework and scaffolding. They are not there to do the choice of building materials, the types of brick, the layout of the rooms or the interior designing of our learning. Politicians abroad, and closer to home in our own education blood bath of impending elections, would do well to remember that.
As a side-note, I find it vaguely amusing that the Columbus Dispatch, citing Ohio as the first state to adopt the Core Standards (above), features an advertisement for the Titanic exhibition. How appropriate.