This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
I am a mother to three children. Two that I made, and a third that I creatively acquired. They range in age from 18 to 8. The eighteen year old is away at college and, for the most part, had the benefit of not having to deal with this Common Core crap. Now I look to the little guys, who are in elementary school, and I furrow my brow every time I consider their 'education'. They have been thrown into the middle of this convoluted nightmare and I've watched their enthusiasm and pride toward their school work dwindle away with each passing week. When I consider the changes I've seen in the last 6 months and apply it to the remaining 7 and 9 years, well, I shudder.
When I was in school, I had the benefit of teachers who were passionate about a variety of subjects. Mr. Waters, a war veteran, taught me about true patriotism and introduced me to a living, fascinating history. Ronnie Bush exposed me to Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbirdand translated Shakespeare so well, that I can read between the lines and 'get' the jokes. Mr. Miller introduced me to Nikola Tesla, the Serbian compelled to immigrate to America to fulfill his dream of being a modern inventor. To date, this is one of my favorite stories illustrating the beauty of America's tradition of emigration. I have these memories because of the passion expressed by my teachers. They cemented this knowledge by eliciting emotion.
Common Core squelches emotion at every turn.
What makes something memorable? In his book The Accidental Mind, the neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how emotions organize our memories:
'In our lives, we have a lot of experiences and many of these we will remember until we die. We have many mechanisms for determining which experiences are stored (where were you on 9/11?) and which are discarded (what did you have for dinner exactly 1 month ago?). Some memories will fade with time and some will be distorted by generalization (can you distinctly remember your seventeenth haircut?). We need a signal to say, "This is an important memory. Write this down and underline it." That signal is emotion. When you have feelings of fear or joy or love or anger or sadness, these mark your experiences as being particularly meaningful…These are the memories that confer your individuality. And that function, memory indexed by emotion, more than anything else, is what a brain is good for.'
When I see the structure of Common Core, I wonder, how on earth are these kids going to remember ANYTHING...assuming that some piece of information actually comes across their desk with a grain of merit. Additionally, there is an element of self-discovery that will be lost or put on hold until they've completed their Common Core studies and have the time to explore the world on their own.
I brought individuals into this world, not drones. A drone is a cog that keeps things moving along 'as is'. An individual can dream and sometimes those dreams benefit society in ways that push the entire world's standard of living to the next level. Why on earth would we actively discourage this?
When are teachers permitted to express their love of a subject? Where is the time slot allowing for passion? Creativity?
Where has all the literature gone? I cannot think of a better way to build a child's vocabulary or to open their minds than by reading literature. Literature is a doorway to the creative mind. If I were never allowed to believe, even briefly, that a lion could rule a world filled with talking fawns, would I later believe that I had the strength to fight against an injustice that my country is perpetrating against my children? Creativity strengthens people in ways that are immeasurable.
By the twelfth grade, 70 percent of the required reading will be nonfiction, or "informational texts". I wasn't a big reader until high school, that's when I discovered Stephen King, Whitley Strieber and Michael Crichton. If I had been forced to read the EPA's "Recommended Levels of Insulation", I can't see me reaching for a book in my free time. This most certainly would have 'closed the book' on any interest I had in reading.
I don't want my children to be educated with the goal of being "College and Career Ready". I want them to be well-rounded individuals, who will determine their own college or career goals, at the appropriate time, without the input of an unconstitutional mandate funded by big business looking to build a global workforce. My children are not your cogs. I want to see a fleet of Teslas not Tesla coils.