Monday, 24 March 2014

Common Whatever

I sat and spent an hour or two this weekend....looking at Common Core....this new educational method sweeping across America.  Personally, I would agree.....the teaching system is screwed up and I would be in favor of some changes.  Common Core?  Well....it's like some change-the-change-to-the-change-of-the-change manager working in some government agency.  Here is an actual note sent by a teacher to parents, to help them understand this change and what it all means.

What you notice here....is that there is a "new" language and a "old" language.  Basically, it means the same thing.  Then you look at the subtract/add problem given as an example.  If you've sat in a class where the Chinese abacus was demonstrated...you'd note the same method here.

Along about my fourth grade of school....the teacher dragged out an abacus and spent about an hour demonstrating how you'd use it.  At the time, I just sat there and felt like it was a waste, but it was something from China....so it must be significant if a bunch of Chinese guys use it.  For the remaining eight years?  It was never brought back up, and the two classes I had in college.....never mentioned the abacus or it's methods.

Add and subtract gone?  Increase and decrease now the standard words?  Oh my.

For some reason, knowing how American kids think....I suspect that three or four kids in every class are uttering "add" and "subtract" on a hourly basis, and kinda refuse to play the game.  Same for the loss of the word 'more-than' or 'less-than'.  Common Core is simply change.  Doing something different, for the sake of change.

Somewhere in this mix....if you think about it.....there are certification specialists, special classes, and foundations which are charging school districts and university programs money.....to get them lined up with the new 'change-agenda'.

Improving things?  If this math problem was an example....I'd say nothing really has changed....except changing terms and making things look different.  In the end.....whatever expectations of improvement you had....probably by 2018....will show that nothing on scores really moved up or down more than a point or two.  All of this argument?  Mostly wasted chatter.

Over the last five years I served in the Air Force (retiring in 1999)....we had these change-players arrive.  In the beginning, it was all pretty acceptable, and we had hopes of some final dramatic positive change (we actually needed something to happen).  After a while, we came to realize that the changes had little value, no improvement to the system, no morale boost except for a momentary thing, and within months.....another change-philosophy would arrive....dictating more change.

My guess is that the change-philosophy is simply a gimmick....geared to get a mass movement going.  If you can turn a herd of cattle to the west....they generally will all walk the same direction....and when you turn the head cow east.....they will all turn generally east.  Course, after a while, you will stand in the field and note that you are pretty much where you started, with nothing to show.

Maybe Common Core will come to politics one day.  Just to make things a little bit interesting and give people the thrill of change, without anything really changing.  Well....you can dream that little dream.

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