education reform, reflection

We Will Never Be Truly Standardized and Thank God for That

The Common Core is meant to save us all from poor teaching or so it seems if you read many political opinions.  Publishers too have been eager to grasp the Common Core and quickly label all of their curriculum with the sure to sell “Common Core Aligned  sticker.  I get inundated with emails offering me new lessons that fit the Common Core, new ideas that will make me ready for the Common Core.  Everywhere I look it seems to be hailed as the savior  of American public education.  And yet I have to laugh a little and perhaps even roll my eyes at all of the promises and ideas of standardization of our educational system.  Has anyone ever truly thought to think about what true standardization would look like?

You would enter into any classroom in America and teachers would preferably be teaching from the same scripted material in the same classroom set up with the same type of children.  All teachers should address concerns the same way.  All teachers should address children the same way.  We should all carve out the same lesson plans, preferably guided by our aligned materials.  We should all make sure our students walk away with the same specific knowledge and skill set.  Then we would have true standardization of the American public school system.

In reality though, you will walk into one school and see many different ways of teaching the same scripted material.  You will see teachers address children differently, you will see them approach lessons in different ways.  No classroom will look the same.  No lesson will sound the same, sure core ideas may be present, but the way they are taught will be different.  And thank god for that.  We have to teach specifically to our students.  We cannot plow our way through scripted curriculum and not stop when a child doesn’t understand or we see an opportunity for further investigation.  If we do, then we are not doing our job as teachers.  The very nature of what we do and who we do it with prevents true standardization  even if politicians think they can test us into submission and sameness.

So I have decided to not get too hung up on the Common Core, sure the idea is quaint, let’s all get on the same page and be rigorous together.  Yet the way it has been processed by curriculum providers and districts clamoring to be aligned is nonsense.  The states racing to the top without really knowing what that means hasn’t helped much either.  If the Common Core is truly meant to push deeper learning opportunities then why would I ever want a scripted curriculum?  Why would I want to pretend that my students learn the same way as an inner city school in Chicago or a small school in rural America?  Why would I want to pretend that I even teach the same every year?  If it is meant to standardize then they will have to standardize the very act of teaching and the very act of learning, which is an impossible thing to do.  And for that I am thankful.

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