How much do you know about the new common core curriculum standards? Well if you don’t know that much you need to get informed ASAP because it is changing everything in education. So in an effort to help you sort out CC (common core) I’m starting this series of posts on common core and its impact on higher level math mainly Pre-Algebra and above. This series of articles will be a learning process for both of us as things are changing rapidly and much is yet to be determined about CC.
What is Common Core?
The basic definition of CC is a new set of curriculum standards (driven at the federal level) that is aimed at increasing the depth of knowledge about core concepts. Why the change to new standards? CC standards are in response to a perception (or fact – you choose) that American students are ill prepared for the new global economy. The designers claim the new standards will focus on fewer topics and go deeper into mastering core concepts. However, the real essence of CC is a new approach to teaching (lesson plan, design and assessment)- this is where CC is a radical departure from traditional/classical math education. CC emphasizes that students work much more in groups and the focus is on “explaining” or “braining storming” logical approaches to problem solving- the use of procedures/memorized steps to find the answer is seen as an incorrect approach to learn mathematics. Indeed a student learning math under CC will have a vastly different experience than a student that learns by a traditional math education.
My First Impression
I don’t like common core for a variety of reasons. I will be discussing my problems with CC in my series of posts as there is just too much to cover in this post. However, I want to say upfront that I don’t disagree with getting students to have a deeper knowledge of math and having them develop excellent critical thinking skills- so in this way I agree with the stated objectives of CC. The big problem I have with CC is it appears to be designed as the ONLY acceptable approach to teaching math and as such rejects traditional or classical curriculums and teaching methods. This rejection of a classical approach to mathematics is what really concerns me- and it should concern you too. Can CC work, will students get an excellent math education by this new approach? Well, maybe but no one really knows as CC is an untested approach to math education in America. Now if CC was not mandated and an option for parents and students I would not have a problem with it- I think competition among curriculum approaches makes for a rich learning environment. Unfortunately if CC supporters get their way the only game in math education will be CC as traditional/classical approaches will be seen as old and broken- nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion.
What Should You Do?
If you are a parent of a child still in K-12 grades than you need to immediately:
- Start educating yourself about common core and its impact on education
- Determine if your state has adopted CC
- Determine if your school is using CC
- See what is trending in your state- is there a big movement to overturn CC?
- Learn from other parents on their child’s experience with CC
- Think of options if you don’t want to have your child learn under CC
- Get involved! You need to talk to your child’s teachers, school and your political representatives on their stance on CC.
- Most importantly- protect your child! If they are struggling with CC then you need to invest the time to find solutions; this certainly will not be easy but not doing anything will make things worse.
What Will I Do?
I’m committed to teaching math irrespective of what standards the government imposes. My style of instruction is a traditional/classical method- it’s a proven approach. How can a system that educated engineers that sent Americans to the moon and made the United States number one in the world in technology be totally rejected? Nevertheless if common core becomes 100% integrated nationally than I will strive to find ways to support students so they can excel in their math studies. Because math concepts are universal a child that learns from a traditional curriculum should still benefit greatly if they are in a CC setting. However this is just my best estimate at this time as students, parents, schools and states are still figuring out CC themselves..