As a public educator, I aim to share my story with those interested about what really happens inside today's classroom. I hope my stories inspire, educate, and entertain you, as the calling of teaching is never neat or predictable. Please note that my blog content does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or beliefs of my school district or colleagues.
Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
Photo courtesy of DiscoveryEducation.com
Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown
My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.
"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather
Monday, September 16, 2013
Editorial on the Common Core
I think you'll find this interesting!
How the Common Core
Core State Standards (CCSS) have been widely presented as a once-in-a-generation
initiative to upgrade basic skills in literacy and math in public education.
Already adopted by forty-five states and the District of Columbia, CCSS
initiative is the most recent nationwide phase in school reform that, so far,
has failed to demonstrate the path to progress in American public education.
Last year, for example, reading scores on the SAT reached a four-decade low,
down one point from the previous year and 34 points since 1972. These recent
results reaffirm a major report by the National Endowment for the Arts dating
from 2007, warning that “there is a general decline in reading among teenage
and adult Americans.”It may take years
to ascertain the success of the implementation of CCSS; but now is the time to
question their promised efficacy to bring about much-needed change in the level
of literacy education in public schools.
A close and
critical reading of CCSS for English language arts shows how they lie on an
inadequate notion of literacy, and reading in particular, that will most likely
mislead teachers and students alike. According to this notion, texts are
containers of knowledge and students are workers who are expected to unpack
them as thoroughly as possible. As CCSS lead authors David Coleman and Susan
Pimentel explain, the Standards “sharpen the focus on the close connection
between comprehension of text and acquisition of knowledge” and “make plain
that…drawing knowledge from the text itself is the point of reading; reading
well means gaining the maximum insight or knowledge possible from each source.”
What the Standards and their authors fail to take into consideration is that texts
are social devices for purposeful organizations
of information, rather than mere containers of it. The point of reading is not
knowledge acquisition, but rather participation in a social interaction that is
mediated by literacy in order to achieve a purpose that the text is designed to
serve. Reading, undoubtedly, involves gaining information, but the reader
searches for and acquires information as a means to recognizing, appreciating,
and achieving the purpose a text is meant to serve.
are not aware of the purpose that the text serves and how it is designed to
serve it cannot be intrinsically motivated readers. Blind to the value of the
text, they lose sight of the point of gaining knowledge of it. Their emotional
and intellectual engagement lessens, their attention to textual details is
compromised, and their ability to monitor their comprehension declines. Lacking
an intrinsic interest in the text, some students conform to the teacher’s
expectations as their principal reason for reading. Motivated primarily by the
desire to respond correctly to the teacher’s questions and assignments, they
fail to grasp or even notice why the text is worthy of their attention. Other
students find the reading assignment so pointless that they are not even
motivated to please their teacher. In either case, the more complex the text
is, the more confusing the information they retrieve appears to be. Implementing
CCSS is likely to demonstrate once again considerable gaps between expectation
and achievement in reading comprehension.
a wide variety of purposes. Consider, for example, the difference between a cooking
recipe, a parking ticket, and a scientific article. CCSS overlook the great
functional diversity of texts in our culture and offers, accordingly, a generic
definition of reading as knowledge acquisition. However, the problem of
literacy education is specific rather than generic. There is a rapidly growing population
of young and older Americans who are enthusiastic and competent users of
digital social media literacy, for example, despite, and apparently
irrespective of the national records of chronic mediocrity in reading school
literature. The average American is a competent Twitter and yet does not know sufficiently
well how to recognize, appreciate, and achieve the special purpose school
literature is designed to serve. The main reason for this relative ignorance is
that standards of literacy education have traditionally been too generic to
address this specific knowledge explicitly and methodically. Unfortunately, CCSS
reinforce this mistaken and misleading pedagogical custom.
has always been predicated on learning from the experience of others. The
ultimate and most distinctive purpose of literacy education is cultivating the
intellectual abilities of young people by introducing them to the intellectual
achievements of past generations. The point of reading at school is learning
from example rather than answering questions that are prefabricated in
compliance with standards of education administrators. Like the tools of
physical education, the poem and the scientific article offer exemplary
exercises that are embedded in the virtual world they help readers to recreate.
Their language is organized to display, on the one hand, dissonant experiences,
contrasting opinions, or conflicting assumptions and beliefs; and, on the
other, the resources to reconcile conceptual tensions by articulating more
coherent, nuanced, and encompassing modes of thought and ideas.
being a mere container of information, the educational text is the real
instructor in the classroom. It is our best available means to learn how to
question what is often taken for granted, revise and expand habits of thought
and beliefs, organize and analyze ideas in ways that offer new perspectives on
phenomena, articulate reasons for or against views of public concern, or
develop theories and narratives that shed new light on human life and its
habitats. The role of the classroom teacher is to help her or his students
realize the educational value of the text in accordance with their personal
abilities and life experiences.
school is and ought to be the student’s personal investment in our shared
intellectual assets. When a text is recognized by a community of adult readers
as an intellectual asset, a younger generation of students can capitalizes on
it by learning to use it to realize their innate intellectual abilities and the
value of their cultural heritage. Public education must be regulated, but the
endeavor to standardize it should not take priority over the intergenerational
transmission of learning.