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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frank Bruni thinks kids are too coddled; I think kids are too tested; The Times fight for Common Core again

It seems if you write for the NY Times you must about why Common Core is wonderful.  I don’t know why. Sunday Frank Bruni wrote a column about how today’s kids are coddled. I couldn’t agree  more. Every game ends in a tie. No one can walk anywhere by themselves. Now I am done agreeing with Bruni. Here is some of the nonsense he wrote:

I behold the pushback against more rigorous education standards in general and the new Common Core curriculum in particular. And it came to mind when Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently got himself into a big mess. Duncan, defending the Common Core at an education conference, identified some of its most impassioned opponents as “white suburban moms” who were suddenly learning that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good.”

So, this is absurd. Common Core is being fought against because it means school is testing testing testing and  what is being tested it boring at best and basically stultifying.
 If you follow the fevered lamentations over the Common Core, look hard at some of the complaints from parents and teachers, and factor in the modern cult of self-esteem, you can guess what set Duncan off: a concern, wholly justified, that tougher instruction not be rejected simply because it makes children feel inadequate, and that the impulse to coddle kids not eclipse the imperative to challenge them.
More nonsense. People are fighting because mathematics is being rammed down the throats of kids who will never use it. Because science has been reduced to rote memorization and because reading has been made in to a painful activity.
The Common Core, a laudable set of guidelines that emphasize analytical thinking over rote memorization, has been adopted in more than 40 states. In instances its implementation has been flawed, and its accompanying emphasis on testing certainly warrants debate.

NO. They emphasize memorization and testing. How would like to take test sall day Frank? How would like to learn things that you didn’t want to learn just because some testing companies  have realized that that stuff is easy to test?
What’s not warranted is the welling hysteria: from right-wing alarmists, who hallucinate a federal takeover of education and the indoctrination of a next generation of government-loving liberals; from left-wing paranoiacs, who imagine some conspiracy to ultimately privatize education and create a new frontier of profits for money-mad plutocrats.

Come on. Common Core is not right wing issue any more that it is a left wing issue. It is a business issue. Bill Gate is behind it and big money is at stake. The idea that kids can learn what interests them to learn is out the window. How is that a political issue?
Then there’s the outcry, equally reflective of the times, from adults who assert that kids aren’t enjoying school as much; feel a level of stress that they shouldn’t have to; are being judged too narrowly; and doubt their own mettle.
That is a weird idea. Kids should enjoy learning. Of course not. Terrible idea right Frank?
Aren’t aspects of school supposed to be relatively mirthless? Isn’t stress an acceptable byproduct of reaching higher and digging deeper?  
No, stress and learning are unrelated. Were you stressed from writing this column Frank? Did you learn anything from writing it? Will you learn anything from what I am writing? Will you find it stressful?
Before we beat a hasty retreat from potentially crucial education reforms, we need to ask ourselves how much panic is trickling down to kids from their parents and whether we’re paying the price of having insulated kids from blows to their egos and from the realization that not everyone’s a winner in every activity on every day.
This has nothing to do with the Common Core issues. The curriculum is awful. See if you can pass any of the tests.
David Coleman, one of the principal architects of the Common Core, told me that he’s all for self-esteem, but that rigorous standards “redefine self-esteem as something achieved through hard work.”

Achieved through hard work that you want to do not that you are being made to do. Hard work that accomplished a goal that you have not that someone else has for you.

And they’ll be ready to compete globally, an ability that too much worry over their egos could hinder. As Tucker observed, “While American parents are pulling their kids out of tests because the results make the kids feel bad, parents in other countries are looking at the results and asking themselves how they can help their children do better.”

They will be able to compete globally? In the math competition? We aren’t teaching them computer skills or business skills or entrepreneurial skills or invention skills or even social skills. We are teaching them test taking skills, so maybe they will win the math prize. Hooray!


Tim McClung said...

I just wanted you to know that I read your stuff a lot. I watch your videos and buy your books. You are part of the Dirty Dozen that I take to every debate/conference/op-ed about public education that I am part of. I promised my grandson that when he started kindergarten, I would start a school that he would thrive in-I have not but I want you to know that it was modeled after your Alternative Learning Places. Remember your whitepaper "Extracurriculars as the Curricular"? Try reading that at a school board meeting-priceless

Paul Miller said...

How would like to take test sall day Frank?

How do you handle failure?