The federal government gave states a handsome financial incentive to adopt the “Common Core Curriculum.” It’s the latest rage in education that is supposed to pull the US out of its embarrassing underperformance in international comparisons. I’m not expert on the Common Core. In truth, I can’t get so much as the gist of it as it is wrapped in education speak thicker than a Jersey accent. You hear things about it though, alarming things, but confirming them is tricky. I’ve heard, for instance, that cursive writing is not mandatory in the curriculum. Each school will decide whether their kids are smart enough and disciplined enough to tackle handwriting. At least we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we will soon be freed from writing notes on Christmas cards, and no longer will we need feel resentment when a thank you note fails to appear in the mail. All good, unless you’re a mail carrier or an uncool grandparent.
My tone is not rooted so much in rejection of the core as in absolute frustration. A quick look through the website devoted to explaining the common core and I feel I have stepped onto Laputa, the island in the clouds devoted to math and music where the inhabitants are incapable of putting their ethereal intelligence to any useful purpose. You, too, can visit Laputa: core standards
If you can figure out what it means in practical terms – besides new textbooks – please let me in on it. The goal is to raise standards and to make students more prepared for work and college. How this will be achieved is mysterious to me. I know from my own experience educating my children that math drills and phonics instruction were irreplaceable, as was a steady diet of our culture’s great literature. When teachers themselves are mired in Laputian, one can only despair and hope that our local educators have more sense.