Wednesday, February 19, 2014

First of all I was very excited by the Common Core when I was originally introduced to it. As a performing artist ti made a lot of sense, as an educator it seemingly valued all of the things I value and find important. 


• Demonstrate independence

• Build strong content knowledge

• Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline

• Comprehend as well as critique

• Value evidence

• Use technology and digital media strategically and capably

• Come to understand other perspectives and cultures 

All things that I could easily get behind. I even conducted workshops at my school for parents in helping them understand what it is and how to make use of it at home. The problem is the over bureaucratic and rushed implementation of the standards devoid of any creative aspect. 

The push for testing does not help either. It's depressing to see how much time we spend at my school on test prep and the push for kids to perform well on these tests. What are we preparing students for? Since there seems to be strong backing for the Common Core from large corporations, I am viewing it with a bit of skepticism. I want my students to be creative thinkers and to have marketable skills. However I am not so sure I want to hand feed the corporate structure. Students are not commodities that can be pre-programmed. 

If I am to truly honor the Common Core I want my students to be independent, knowledgeable about content (which may include knowing facts not just where to find them),be flexible and responsive to others,work at understanding with a critical eye,use the current tools at hand but not be dependent on them, and most importantly question and search for evidence. I want their education to be experiential and I want them to relate what they learn in literature, art, dance, science, math, etc. to their lives in a real way. That is at the heart of eduction whether I teach dance or science. 

The Common Core probably should have been tested out first on a few select schools and then gradually rolled out. We were given standards to meet without getting the tools or training to help us out. As usual we are flying by the seat of our pants, which works for a little while but is not a wise long term strategy. What could be essentially a great template and/or guideline for learning becomes an overly commodified tool to supply a workforce to an increasingly de-humanizing corporate hierarchy. 

The same is true of the Danielson protocols for effective teaching. Something that was meant as a tool for teachers to be self-reflective and aid in improving their teaching practice has become a overly micro-managed evaluation system that has teachers scurrying around to make sure that they are operating at a highly effective level all of the time. 

The fact is that teaching is messy and does not always occur or operate at a highly effective level all of the time. Like everything in life, things are just not going to go the way you planned and sometimes you even fail. And as any artist knows, it is necessary to fail and then to get up and try again. Failure becomes part and parcel to the learning process. How we make use of our failures to inform our process and progress ourselves as human beings is what is important. This is what we should be focusing on and not meeting some prescribed set of standards, Common Core, Danielson or anything else that comes along the way.