This is a little atypical of what I normally write about, but I think it highlights some of the problems with education on all levels.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on here that I think one of my gifts in life is that I can generally see both sides to the story. I get why things bother some people, but I understand where the other side is coming from too. This is a great thing in my life, though it sometimes drives me crazy when I need to make a decision. What really irritates me, though, is when other people can’t/won’t/refuse to consider the other side.
Yesterday in Arizona, the state superintendent of public instruction, Diane Douglas, motioned to reject Common Core and it passed. From my understanding, it doesn’t really mean that anything has changed yet because it’s not a repeal. I’m still trying to understand what exactly it means and if the repeal is happening soon or what. Now, Common Core is a hot topic all over the country. My brain, being how it is, can see both sides to the issue. Ultimately, I think the idea of common standards throughout the country is a fantastic idea, but the current application of the standards definitely needs work. Whatever your stance on Common Core is, that’s not what this is about. My concerns with this situation are mostly about a couple thought processes. Here are my beefs:
Fail #1. Diane Douglas should never have been voted into office. She has zero experience as an educator. She won simply because she said she would repeal Common Core. That was the only reason for winning, and she has been nothing but drama since she started. Wasting money that should be going to the kids. The Democrat running would have done a great job had he won. Yes, Common Core would have stayed, but there would have been a real-life educator who knows what he’s talking about and could actually improve the system rather than scrapping it without a real plan to improve. Just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you have to vote for an unqualified conservative. I was happy to vote for the other guy because he would have done a better job, even though I don’t share many of his political beliefs. Americans need to get over party alliances and vote for the person who would be best, regardless of political affiliation. Children’s education should not be part of the political game. They are suffering the most from this.
Fail #2. An article about this was posted on Facebook and I scrolled through the comments to see how ridiculous people were being. The prevailing comments I saw were along the lines of, “Oh good, now I can help my kids with their homework. I didn’t understand that math and I felt stupid. I want the old way back.” I appreciate people wanting to help their kids with their homework. That’s wonderful, actually, and more people need to do it. But this is where my real issue comes in. Learn how to do it! I know it’s uncomfortable. I know you weren’t taught that way. I know you will feel dumber than a 5th grader at times, but who cares? Do you know what doesn’t help kids learn? Their parents sitting next to them saying how stupid it is every time. They don’t need that. Do we want to be showing our kids that not only can we not learn something new, but that it’s not even worth trying to learn? That’s going to be really great advice for them later in life. In college we would have homework parties some nights and my friend Jeff would bring his Mechanical Engineering homework–have you seen that stuff? They call it Math, but I couldn’t tell the difference between it and hieroglyphics. Do you want your kid to get that far, see those problems and then give up on what they want to do because “Ugh, it’s just like that dang Common Core math. Not even real. How stupid, I quit.” If parents are instilling that attitude in elementary school, it shouldn’t be a surprise when it stays with them throughout their entire education.
I’ve looked at some of those Math problems and yeah, at first it’s pretty weird. Of course I don’t want to do it the long way when I know how to do it the short way. As I looked a little closer to some of them, I realized that some of them teach kids the same principles that taught me how to add and subtract big numbers so easily. I learned playing dominoes with my grandma. I don’t know how to explain the way she taught me because she didn’t know she was teaching me, we were just playing. As I look at those problems, though, it is remarkably similar. I’m not saying I’m a genius (I’m realllly not), just pointing out that there is more than one way to learn. Do we want our kids to think if they aren’t learning the way things have always been learned that they are stupid because they get it better the other way?
Adults, just because your kids are learning how to do things differently than we did, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong/stupid/a waste of time/a socialist takeover of our children/cruel–it just means it is different. I applaud every parent who does homework with their kids, we need more of that. If you want to keep protesting Common Core, go ahead. I’m all for activism and finding what will work best to educate America. But your kids need help with what they’re doing now, so if you want to help them then you need to find someone who can help you understand it too instead of showing your kids that learning new things isn’t worthwhile.
I’m grateful for previous generations of parents who didn’t teach their kids that new is stupid, but examined and evaluated new information and methods instead of sensationalized headlines. Otherwise, we’d still be saying the earth is flat, women still wouldn’t have the vote, and a whole bunch of other crazy new ideas that we adhere to today would have been thrown in the trash.