We all know what the toughest thing will be with Common Core throughout education in the US, from K-12. We have been teaching young people NOT to THINK but to respond and KNOW right/correct answers, to know other people’s thoughts and hold them dogmatcally correct and unchallenged. We have taught them to answer A, B, C or D, to shorten responses to simplistic twitter-like lengths at best, and to read, via the standardized tests, short passages [and then wonder why they don’t like to read long works when they get older (many used to like reading when they were in elementary school, but they soon wisen up and realize they are not going to be tested in a large scale and “high stakes” fashion on those - only short passages of little-to-no relevance to them on any level… “read what you need” - young people are clever and pragmatic, and our system has taught them these lessons all too well]. The material they learn dissipates from their memories almost as soon as they are tested because it held no depth of thought, no connections, and no real value.
Now we ask them to THINK, to reason out, through deduction, induction or possibly abduction, a response, attach to that response relevance and logical textual references and discourse, and to analyze the potential cause and effect relations or some great significance. We will now ask them to peruse real-life situations and problems, require them to engage in Socratic dialogue, and learn to listen, broaden horizons and perspectives, and respond with banks of knowledge and greater depth of thought.
On paper this may sound like an easy task, but in many states and schools, having killed creativity, innovation, oral communication skills, and the search for knowledge and truth, having obliterated independent critical analysis, having turned our school system into one producing Visigoths instead of Athenians, we will suffer sincere growing pains. Many in the political spectrum and media [clamoring for ratings and someone to listen to them talk and talk, rant and rave] will spout out vitriol against Common Core and all it purports to offer and beckon for a return to the older and antiquated standards and associations with the much hated NCLB and prior legislation [NCLB heralded as the heal-all for the nation proved otherwise in Texas shortly after George W took office, and then the nation felt the repercussions as NCLB dug its claws into the cultural and social milieu of the nation so deeply that the idiocy and wallowing in mediocrity was barely noticeable]. They will do so out of love of ease, desire to return to the good old days that never were and never can be, and a wondrous ignorance of actual learning and education, actual histories related to learning, individual and communal growth and the stated goals and knowledge of the Founding Fathers for an educated populace in order to preserve the democracy they knew was a fragile and tenuous experiment they began in the 18th Century with so much blood, sweat and tears.
We need to resist the return to NCLB’s idiocies and standardized multiple choice tests and short passage responses and embrace the process of thinking, of questioning and following Socratic and Platonic methods, following the ideals of the Athenians, those folks who also experimented with democracies of sorts back a few thousand years ago and upon whom our Founding Fathers called for wisdom based upon their own intelligence, knowledge, and depth of thought - their own variable perceptions and value of understanding and compromise, community and identity. We need to weather the storms ahead bravely and with steadfastness of character and purpose.
Common Core is not a panacea, and it is not a cure-all. It is not a vision of excellence to solve all our societal woes and lead us into the distant future, but it is a STEP in the right direction, and it is a STEP long OVERDUE. It is ONE small step for America, and one GIANT step for MANKIND [and its perpetuity and potential].