Shutting Down the Core Curriculum

This morning, I read an interesting blog post about 'core curriculum'.

My regular readers will know that despite my children being exceptionally gifted and typically testing off the scale on standardized test, I am generally opposed to a one size fits all education system more focused on success on standardized tests than in creativity, collaboration, and twenty-first century skills.

They will also know that I'm a big fan of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

the other thing about football is we send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is, and it’s the first example of what I’m going to call a head fake, or indirect learning. We actually don’t want our kids to learn football. I mean, yeah, it’s really nice that I have a wonderful three-point stance and that I know how to do a chop block and all this kind of stuff. But we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.

The blog post talks about the problem of testing "students on material that they haven’t yet learned in September". She talks about how students respond,

when he gets consistently failing grades on the module assessments, what message do you think he’s getting?

She is rightly concerned that the indirect lesson for too many students is that they are dumb. This is where the real lesson can come in. Failure is okay! Not knowing things is okay!

The baseball player who fails to get a base hit two thirds of the times is a great success. Failure is okay!.

And, for students who fail spectacularly, they can consider running for public office. They can consider passing legislation that encourages a one size fits all education system more focused on success on standardized tests than in creativity, collaboration, and twenty-first century skills.

If they are really spectacular failures, they can try an end run around the constitution to get legislation they oppose, like health care reform, repealed by holding the appropriations process hostage and shutting down the government.

Yes, there are indirect lessons that can be learned. Creativity and collaboration is what matters; not success at tests in September, and not passing legislation that damages our country.

Let's take core curriculum failures and turn them into meaningful successes, let's talk with our students about the importance of creativity and collaboration and not fretting about stupid tests or stupid legislators.

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