ela modules

Uncommon Core

The Common Core is the new traveling circus act that will save public education. The standards were the initiative of Achieve, a group of governors and corporate leaders, that felt students were not being adequately prepared for life after high school.

Notice that the profession of teacher is absent from that group. No biggie.

The majority of states have adopted the Common Core Learning Standards.

In New York State, these new standards were adopted the same year the new teaching standards were implemented. If you didn’t know, teachers are now evaluated on how their students perform on tests, in break dance competitions, in skeet shooting tournaments, in HVAC repair and the Hunger Games.

In other words, teachers were a bit stressed. But thankfully the state stepped in and paid $12.9 million to outside corporations to develop lesson modules around the Common Core.

What’s even better is a single lesson unit is only 300 pages long and includes such helpful tips as how to speak to little humans.

For example, let’s say you want your students to look at a chunk of text, the module will direct the teacher or actor to state: “Look at this text. What do you notice about it?”

All this time, I had been saying “Tree! I like pretzels crushed in my hair. Pigeons dance sometimes” when I’ve wanted students to look at a chunk of text. Had I known that I needed to actually say “Look at this text” I could have saved a lot of time, time I spent instead on brushing pretzel crumbs out of my hair. Thanks corporation!

The real gem of these multi-million dollar modules is the content. It’s as if the content was written by people who had never met a child or been a child themselves or been in a school or taught anything other than a hamster how to bubble in a state assessment.

For example, the second grade module wants second graders to be able to “describe the basic principles of Hinduism and Buddhism” and “describe the teachings of Confucius.”

That is fucked up.

–Confucius

For a point of reference, second graders are typically 7 years old with only a tiny bit of exposure to world religons that they may have gained from reading Green Eggs and Ham. That is totally a Daoist tract.

If you asked a 7-year-old to describe the basic principles of Hinduism, the 7-year-old will likely respond: “My dad’s birthday is in March.”

The module for first grade wants first graders to “explain the significance of gods/goddesses, ziggurats, temples, and priests in Mesopotamia” and “explain the significance of the Code of Hammurabi.”

For a point of reference, a first-grader is typically 6 years old. First grade is usually when students learn how to read possibly by reading Dick and Jane Violate the Code of Hammurabi. 

To expect a 6-year-old to “explain the importance of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and the use of canals to support farming and the development of the city of Babylon” may be a bit of an overreach considering that 6-year-olds still think Abraham Lincoln is alive and is my father.

The kindergarten module is about genocide and its implications on a global scale.

I’m joking.

The module for kindergarten has the expectations that kindergarteners will be able to  “describe the purpose of the Declaration of Independence as a statement of America’s liberty” and “explain Abraham Lincoln’s role during the U.S. Civil War.”

For a point of reference, a kindergartener is typically 5 years old; some start the school year at 4. In kindergarten, children start to learn the letters and sounds of the alphabet, like D is for the Declaration of Independence, a social contract that clearly delineated the rights of a people choosing to govern themselves and B is for barn.

In kindergarten, students practice the skills of cooperation and sharing. They hold hands when they walk to the nurse’s office and generally have difficulty finding their classroom when they drop their books off at the library. They usually don’t discuss the horrors of slavery, the dissolution of our country over that institution and Lincoln’s decision to go to  war to save the union

But what the fuck do I know? I’m only a teacher.

Speaker7 had to refer to Google heavily during this post having little to no familiarity about the Code of Hammurabi or the principles of Buddhism. Her elementary school teachers really sucked. All they did was taught her how to read, write and arithmetic.