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Not So Common Core

Third grader Bryce Rees, 7, watches the education speech given by President Barack Obama, at Sequoia Elementary School in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Janice Barlow

An ever widening gap is occurring between traditional education and what passes for teaching in today’s public school systems. Teachers spend so much time filling out lesson plans and submitting them for approval, “teaching to the test” (the formal state-mandated student testing which gives schools performance grades) and making sure they do not veer off the standard track, that creativity has been tossed out the window.

Many teachers approaching retirement say that they would never choose to teach if they were starting out now. They are forced to design their lessons so that the students who have the most difficult time learning receive a significant amount of attention. This deprives advanced students of the ability to move on and learn at an accelerated rate. Those students become bored. Challenges are based on ability, not age.

Unfortunately, the results have not improved under a Common Core methodology; even with the elimination of Common Core, there is still a distinct dumbing down in the classroom. The traditional methods which worked so well in the past, where students could not advance to the next grade until they could read, write and comprehend mathematical skills, are no longer required.

Teachers must force students to work part of the day in teams, where some will be leaders and others will sit back and either take direction or decide not to participate at all. The teacher becomes a little helicopter, hovering about the classroom, making suggestions to each group, which attempts to master a task. This method is not always wrong in itself, but it is not one that should be used in every subject. Math, for instance, should be knowledge learned in a traditional setting so it may be later applied in a group setting, such as in a Chemistry experiment.

With the infiltration of Common Core, students are not taught to tackle problems in a creative matter – at least their own creative matter. They must use some newfangled method designed by people who were not math teachers and where arriving at the right solution doesn’t matter, but doing so in a convoluted system is what counts.

Guess what? We all think differently. We arrive at solutions differently. As long as we get the right answer without cheating, to use a snide cliché, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.



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2 Comments on Not So Common Core

  1. Many people recognize the problems. How and why did Education head in this in direction? Everyone claims to have answers but no one has solutions. We claim politics, economics, liberals, teacher unions and the list can continue are the causes. Charter schools, vouchers, on-line learning are answers with lots of lobbyist pushing less than informed elected leaders on what’s needed. I don’t try to tell my doctor how or what treatment I need. Maybe teachers are better able to treat this problem.

  2. Janice Barlow // March 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm // Reply

    Thanks for your input. As a secondary high school science substitute teacher for 4 years (2008-2012), I saw first hand how the faculty’s hands were tied. Teachers in the public schools cannot override the administration. It’s why so many are leaving. Teachers would be the best people to solve it, if only they were allowed to.

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