Our students know what they need; we need to find a way to get their voices heard.
By Gina Galjour
Imagine an education system in which a student’s knowledge is evaluated by a set of fifty questions, a system in which the federal government decides what students need to know at the end of the year—an education without representation. With common core, that vision could become a reality. Centralizing the education system is most definitely not the answer to strengthening America’s education.
Common core is basically the federalization of education. Instead of the local and state governments deciding what education plan their communities should follow, federal officials determine the whole nation’s education by a list of standards. The K-12 standards describe what a student should know at the end of each grade. This can be beneficial to teachers and students, as they know they are teaching and learning the right information, but the standards can be ridiculously low or ridiculously high. One of the Kindergarten common core standards is:
“Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/“corners”) and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length)” (CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.B.4).
In Kindergarten, the majority of children do not know how to read and write proficiently, much less describe the vertices of a three-dimensional shape. It is not the federal government’s place to determine what a student should and should not know. Students should be allowed to receive help when necessary and also have the opportunity to go beyond the lesson plan. Centralizing education may help raise some schools’ standards, but it may also lower others. Each community is different and should have their own standards in order to improve a student’s education and allow him/her to excel.
With Common Core, there is no “why” involved. Why does a first grader need to know how to draw three-dimensional shapes? Teachers teach what they are required to prepare for the national standardized test. With this “teach the test” approach, students are merely memorizing the information, not learning it. Likewise, standardized tests do not measure several important things a teacher would see in school such as the work ethic and improvement of students. Standardized testing would not recognize the improvement students would have made throughout the year, leaving them feeling unaccomplished.
Common Core is a false utopia, a seemingly perfect society in which students learn the same and have the same learning environment. But, everyone learns and does everything differently. People are not robots; one size will never fit all and centralizing education is not the answer.
A Student’s Perspective. My students have a lot to say about the current education system. Instead of telling you how they feel, I decided to let them speak for themselves. Some articles originally appeared in The LHS Revolution (thelhsrevolution.com); others are created specifically for this blog. Their parents have signed permission forms to share their work here. Read, comment, question, but remember they are students; be respectful. Thank you, Pauline Hawkins
2 thoughts on “A Student’s Perspective: Common Core: One Size Does Not Fit All”
Gina, great article detailing your frustration with Common Core. Keep speaking your mind.
I do disagree with your interpretation of the kindergarten math standard you posted. Most young children can identify a cube. I’m not sure why, but they think it’s really cool and they do remember it. I like most of the Common Core standards at the elementary level, but they take some real digging to understand their actual depth. As a student, you may not readily see the depth. As a teacher of 20+ years, I do.
Take for example, the kindergarten math standard you posted. You may have some students who already know “cube” and what it represents and can name “ice cube” as an example or identify dice as cubes. Others may only see a bunch of squares on the sides of the cube or dice. Both of these are ways to identify 2d and 3d figures. Both lead to the why. A conversation in the classroom might go like this.
“When noticing cubes, I see that they all have corners. We call those vertices. (While they wouldn’t be expected to remember the name, some will because it sounds important.) If I can use squares to make a cube, could I use circles? (This is where drawing, building with straws and class, etc would come in.) Who can do it? Why not?”
Keep reading, keep learning, Gina. I look forward to reading more blog posts from you!
Thanks for your response and explanation!