The Past, Present and Future Exploration of Common Core: Mindset

If you wish to read a blog that annihilates the Common Core, than this is not for you. This blog focuses on the standards ONLY, which does not include teaching practices or standardized testing.

In my last post, I discussed one of the front-running reasons why teachers and parents are disgusted with the Common Core: implementation. Now, I would like to explore our mindsets. We can’t change the past and re-implement these standards. But since they are here, how can we make the best of them and make them work for our students?

We have two options, really. We can fight to keep these standards, which will push our students’ thinking and their talents in math and reading to a higher level; or, we can turn our backs on these standards and our students, like Indiana recently did and South Carolina is planning on doing.

Are those really our only options, though? Instead of scrapping the Common Core altogether, how about we work together to make them better?! (Honestly, that is what Indiana did. Don’t let the Hoosiers fool you! They didn’t get rid of the Common Core. If you look closely, their newly proposed state standards are the Common Core, only revamped in areas that were of concern to them.) The CCSS are very ambitious standards. Are they perfect? No. But I think most educators would agree that we need some kind of uniformed standards amongst the 50 states that starts raising the bar for our students. So instead of dropping the standards altogether, let’s work together to fix them so we are all on the same level.

The other piece of our mindsets that is stopping us from fully accepting these standards is that they do something that past standards never did: not only do they require students to illustrate the “how” behind a problem, but also the “why,” and be able to explain this. This is something that young children in top-performing nations have been taught for years. In the United States, the Common Core attempts to teach our students to explain their thinking, and this is the result:

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Instead of helping our students PERSEVERE and THINK, parents (and some educators) are helping our students MAKE EXCUSES. Instead of TEACHING at higher levels, they are dismissing these rigorous questions as “inappropriate” and “too challenging” and giving their children a pass. Their reasoning? “This is not how I learned math (in this way),” which is usually followed up by, “…and I did just fine.” This negative and resistant mindset is handicapping our students’ education, and only making the Common Core more challenging.

Again, I began this blog entry by stating that I wasn’t going to discuss standardized testing. I’m not, and I sure do HOPE that parents and educators who are against the Common Core are not confusing the standards with the method by which they are measured. I understand the reasons many parents and educators do not support the testing system in the United States; but please let me make one thing clear: TESTING IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH STANDARDS. Don’t hate on the standards because our tests are frustrating and cause anxiety. The standards are not the tests, and the tests are not the standards. Apples and oranges, folks.

Where do we go from here? Now, more than ever, educators need to collaborate across the nation to find the best ways to teach to these standards. We need to band together against the nay-sayers and prove that these standards are important for getting the United States back in with the global competition. We need to urge politicians without significant educational backgrounds – at federal, state, and local levels – to remove themselves from education-related decisions. And we need to work harder than ever to clearly illustrate to our students that they CAN achieve success by reaching the grade-level goals set by CCSS, despite what others may say, and not only will they be prepared for college, they WILL BE READY for the WORLD when they graduate.

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