What is Common Core? It is the corporate educationalists’ belief that reading more nonfiction and “informational” texts in English classes (and in other high school classes) will improve students college readiness.
It does not seem to hold up.
The history of the secondary English curriculum in 20th-century America suggests that the decline in readiness for college reading stems in large part from an increasingly incoherent, less challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward.
Common Core is a philosophy that believes reading Shakespeare, Melville, TS Elliot, and all other great historical literary works is a waste of time. Instead its reading manuals focus on informational, nonfiction text selections from college students public domain selections about computer geeks, fast food, teenage marketing, and the working poor. Hardly the kind of material to exhibit ambiguity, subtlety, and irony.
Common Core‘s misguided idea is that in the workplace, we are subject to large numbers of boring manuals of complexity and incomprehensibility, and therefore, giving these to our budding and aspiring students will motivate and inspire them to go forward and achieve great things.
It is failing.
In Christina School District, tenth grade English is now Common Core. As one student put it, “last year I was reading Romeo and Juliet. This year I’m reading simple first grade stories….” Last years A+ student is, because of a boring curriculum, putting English on the bottom of their priorities, and now pulling off C+’s….
Is it the teacher’s fault? Not when the student raves about how much the love the teacher… “So why are you doing badly?” “Because it is soooo boring….”
Herein is the key to educational success. It has to be a buffet of choices so each and every student can find something that ignites them… Once fired up by potential interest, their enthusiasm for achievement develops.
We turned out a decent population of baby boomers. Most were successful. Most did well in life… All we did then was throw teachers into schools, made sure the buses ran on time and paid the bills….
That worked then; we should ditch all of today’s corporate plans, and return to the existentialist method of successful teaching….
After all. Most of the people who are running corporations today, dropped out of school…..