Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts on a Core -- a Common Core

I’ve been asked to give a workshop on using Primary Source Documents at the UCSS (Utah Conference for the Social Studies) Fall Conference in October.

I went home, looked at my husband and said…”Doesn’t everybody already DO that?”

I suppose not. How sad for their students.                                                   

There’s a massive kuff-fuffle about this use of the Core Curriculum. Things like:

If we use it, we’re giving up local control of our schools.

It’s copyrighted. We can’t change it.

It’s a plot by several corporations to get a monopoly on using their textbooks etc.

It’s going to tell us day by day what we have to teach.

Really?

Expecting that by the 8th grade students will be able to form sentences. Use correct grammar. Do basic research and understand the concept of plagiarism. Read instructions and the text of ANY book on their grade level. Fulfill assignments by thinking through and answering questions which aren’t simply scanning through the chapter and finding them at the back of the book. Have the electronic and presentation skills to make things like ppts while supporting their arguments logically. Anywhere in the country….

This is a bad thing?

I spent a couple of weeks in the summer with teachers from “struggling” schools. They struggle not because the teachers are bad, but because they have students who come from foreign speaking homes, transient homes, hungry homes, under employed homes.

A common core—a common expectation—a common purpose—a common standard across the country for these students when they move from school to school or state to state is a good thing.
I’m not saying that my history class has to be on the same page as Mr. So-and-so from North Carolina. I’m saying that we should have the same writing, thinking and reading standards. All the programs in this silly education world are not going prepare our students to become our future leaders, home, nation and international, if they cannot THINK! Cannot WRITE!  Cannot
COMMUNICATE!

As for me and my class? We will continue striving to improve. To expand our horizons. To deepen our understanding. And how will we do it?

Through the reading/interpreting and studying of primary source documents and by writing our little fingers to the bone.

Thank you—and now I shall get off my soapbox. (And for all those who have NO idea what I’m talking about when I say soapbox—go talk to your history teacher. I’m sure there’s a primary source document they could find for you to explain it.)

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