“Education is life itself.” ~ John Dewey
If you live in the U.S., and even if you don’t, you may have heard about the Common Core Learning Standards and how they’ve been adopted in schools throughout the country. Many parents and educators like the new system, but just as many hate it.
Since the beginning of the school year (my 5th grader above is required to prove his answers in class, per new system), that’s all I’ve been hearing. I left the back-to-school meeting with a folder filled with common-core literature, and soon received an invitation to a “Common Core” conference. A new system comes with loads of info.
The news media, sensing a huge conflict, jumped into the fray, assembling groups of politicians and educators, even Hollywood stars arguing — some very passionately –for or against the standards.
While I’ve heard more than enough criticism, nothing seemed watertight, with the exception, perhaps, of the one size doesn’t fit all argument. Meaning, we shouldn’t demand schools everywhere to adopt the same standards. Fair enough.
I understand certain kids do better if allowed freedoms with emphasis on individualism rather than being dictated how to learn. But I don’t see how that can be done in a state-run school system with thousands of kids. If what we want, as parents, is individualism and freedom within limits, then perhaps the Montessori education system is best and not a taxpayers funded system.
Here is my understanding of what common core does: The tests will require more elaborate answers, and students will be learning to comprehend, analyze, and discuss. The old standards (pre common core): students memorized facts for multiple-choice tests. So, while multiple-choice may still be around, the new system requires kids to think deeper and show how they’d arrived at an answer.
I was never a huge proponent of multiple-choice tests. My Eastern European school system had no such thing. A test required a mini-essay answer for each question, one I had to prove. An answer to a question was, sometimes, a page-long. That encouraged critical thinking, and focused not only on the end result, but on showing how and why the specific answer was chosen.
College in the U.S., especially the first year or so, was ridiculously easy once faced with multiple-choice tests. I remember joking with friends: They give me the answer, and I use the process of elimination.
How does that encourage thinking? Sounds very robot like.
While the jury’s still out on the Common Core principle, I’m in favor of anything that promotes high expectations, anything pushing the student to not only memorize an answer, but dig deeper and understand how and why he came to such an answer.
~~ What say you, dear blogging friend? If you’re not in the U.S., how does your country’s education system compare?