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Overview of Common Core at the Primary School Level

I just returned from a COMMON CORE orientation at my son’s elementary school.

The principal stressed that Common Core was developed by the States, not the Federal Government. It was developed in response to NCLB, which teachers and administrators felt resulted in Learn-for-the-Test Thinking only.

Here’s the Overview of what we were told the CC Program focuses on:

LESS FICTION READING

Reading Fiction (such as novels) is dramatically reduced. Even at the Kindergarten level, the focus of literacy education is to be on non-fiction. The reasoning for this is that reading novels and most creative writing doesn’t translate into everyday usage and preparedness.

THREE AREAS OF WRITING

In Writing, students will focus on identifying and writing in three areas: Narrative Writing, Informational Writing, and Opinion Writing.

LESS SCAFFOLDING, MORE DIVING IN

Rather than build up a body of knowledge (scaffolding), students under CC will be expected to struggle through more advanced reading so that they “figure things out,” and learn to “persevere.”

CITING EVIDENCE

As part of the process of writing, they will need to identify evidence in the body of the text, and then cite that evidence in their writing.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS AS THINKING TOOLS

To reinforce their understanding of what they read, students are to use Speaking and Listening skills. So, they will be instructed to engage in conversations with reading partners to promote deeper-level thinking and responses than simply repeating what another student says.

LEARNING ACADEMIC LANGUAGE

Students from K-12 will be taught specific academic terminology (such as, Idiom, Synonym, Participle, etc) as part of their learning of language and literacy.

LITERACY AS COMPONENT OF ALL SUBJECTS

Whether the subject is math, science, social studies, or history, there will be a literacy (writing) component. Thus, students will be asked questions or given topics to write about , and the writing must demonstrate proficiency in higher-level thinking.

(Notice the term, Critical Thinking hasn’t been used; and never was. I wonder why, as that seems to be what’s being taught.)

ANCHOR SUBJECT FOCUS ON THE BIG IDEA

Just as in Math, where the CC goal is to get the student to explain how they arrived at an answer, all subjects are more about getting the Big Idea, than stressing getting particular facts correct. (NOTE: This conclusion is mine, based on what little the principal said about what Big Idea philosophy is all about. She glossed over it).

DISCUSSION AT THE END

We were given a poem by a Native American Chief (Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe) that started as follows:

“I am tired of fighting
Our chiefs are killed.
Looking Glass is dead.
Toolhulhulsote is dead.
The old men are all dead.”

We were told to discuss the structure of the writing, what the chief was saying, etc. Then, we were asked questions about this and asked to cite evidence to support our interpretations.

After that, the principal handed out another sheet of paper with factual information about Chief Joseph, and as she read what the chief’s father told Junior on his deathbed, the principal was practically in tears.

MY QUESTIONS / CONCERNS

There doesn’t appear to be any emphasis on CULTURAL LITERACY in this program to lay a foundation of who our children are as “Americans.” There is no importance placed on teaching a Common Core of Values and Principles.

If you restrict the reading of Fiction, specifically Folklore, you are limiting our children’s exposure to American Culture. Because stories and fables and folklore pass on cultural mores, history, myths, and identification. They may do so subtly or overtly.

If children continue to be taught things primarily (or solely) from the Native American viewpoint, or from the viewpoint of everyone but what would traditionally be viewed as an American in this culture, we will have no culture.

BIAS

Obviously, the majority of educators and administrators lean Left in their orientation. It’s part of their ideology to indoctrinate, as well as, to educate. If they wish, they can easily use CC to bias thinking, and to actually restrict how deeply children will think.

Thus, I see a huge possibility for abuse in this regard.

CONCLUSION

I don’t disagree with most of what is being focused on. It sounds like a rational approach to teaching. But, we all know that politics absolutely influences what education is, and so, we must keep an eye out for any instances of bias and indoctrination that occur.

Even the principal said that Federal Government can’t tell the States what they can do with education. That is, UNLESS, the States want to get federal funds…

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