Why I Oppose Common Core and Love Dirt

“Good schools are places where its okay to be goofy, to admit to children what one does not know, and what, often, no one on this earth can know, then to join them in the great adventure of searching for a resolution of these mysteries together.”-jonathan kozol

I am opposed to common core because it mandates a federal one size fits all course of instruction linked to standardized assessments and vam teacher assessments.

I have read the core standards and have found that especially in the younger grades, the course work is not developmentally appropriate. I believe that teachers are professionals and should design curriculum that meets their students’ levels, strengths and needs.

This will vary community to community as much as it can vary within a single classroom community. Raising the bar for children who do not get enough food to eat, whose families are working but unable to make ends meet, lacks compassion and intellectual insight into causes of school struggle. There is a wealth of research that points to socio-economic status as the main issue in school success or failure. Diane Ravitch has written extensively about this.

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What children need to succeed in school is a full belly and a good night’s sleep upon arrival. When they get to school they need to be in an enriched environment that evokes their ideas and questions. They need adults who understand child development and who have learned how to put theory into motion through practice.

Children need to learn about the world around them through exploration and play.

They thrive when they can be outside for extended periods of time. They need experiences with the natural world…with dirt and plants and bugs. They need to dig a lot of holes and discover worms and a variety of treasures under the sand and dirt. They need to be able to pick flowers and herbs they grew and make real tea. They need to be able to pick a flower or a bouquet for someone important to them.

They need to create their own play themes and stories and characters with other children. They need access to paint and glue and cardboard, tape, foil ..a myriad of supplies that they can use to build and express about what they know and what they are figuring out. They need to be able to jump up on a crate or a chair or a bench and make an important announcement…or create a show for others…

They need good writing materials and fine paper to make words or pictures. They need to learn how to solve differences with different people without adults making judgements about “good” or “bad” behavior.

Children need respect.

They need lots of books and wooden blocks.

Children need clear and fair boundaries they can count on.

Children should be able to ask for formal lessons before age 7, and feel ready to dive in to lessons after age 7.  Some will want them sooner..some will thrive a little later.

The adults who guide the children should be keen observers and know when to step in and challenge, and when to stand back and let experiments or practice happen  until support seems reasonable or needed.

I shudder when I learn that huge companies will be profiting greatly from the sale of textbooks and testing materials that do not speak to the needs of many many vulnerable children who live in poverty-whether on the street or as members of families of working poor. Large companies and the people who run them will become wealthy, but the status quo will remain the same for the children.

And so…
I oppose common core.
I support dirt.

Read more about play and brain development:


Another important perspective on Common Core…From Fordham University

Fordham professor, Nicholas Tampio, says even homeschooling parents need to get in on the fight against Common Core. Read his piece in The Homeschool Handbook Magazine: http://bit.ly/1A7JI9o



About cthebean

Educator, musician, social justice activist...and now a blogger. Children deserve unflinching support from adults.....they deserve nothing less. All kids . Everybody's kids. Everywhere.
Aside | This entry was posted in thoughts and radical reflections and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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