Call me a grumpy old man. (I've been called worse.) But I fear it isn't going to be easy for David Coleman and his fellow authors of the Common Core English/Language Arts standards to wean U.S. students off writing about themselves, their feelings, and their experiences and onto forming judgments based on evidence in the texts that they're reading. Switching over their teachers—especially those under thirty—may prove just as difficult.
We seem to be raising an entire generation of young Americans who are completely centered on themselves rather than what we might term "the work to be done."
The smart and well-respected head of a major philanthropy mentioned the other day that way too many of the young people working—or seeking to work—at his organization are vastly more interested in "what it means for them" than in the job itself. As in, "Is it meeting my needs? Am I getting the growth I need? The recognition I'm due? The mentoring I want? The compensation I deserve? The time off that I'm entitled to?" and NOT as in, "I'm here to do an important professional job for an organization whose mission I believe in, and I'll give it my all."
We don't run into that much at Fordham, fortunately—at least, those who may harbor such feelings of self-absorption keep them bottled up or share them with others rather than me. (Perhaps they can divine how unmoved I would be.) But I do
Admittedly, Andy Smarick is part Luddite.
From Wikimedia Commons.
I just finished reading the Forbes Magazine profile on Salman Khan. You might want to give it a read.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m somewhere between marginally skeptical and cautiously optimistic when it comes to the proliferation of technology to “individualize” learning.
Admittedly, I’m part Luddite and part contrarian, so I’m predisposed to be chary of this entire field for less than noble reasons. But it seems like the only thing more ubiquitous than new ways to deliver content are the apocryphal claims of their revolutionary nature. (Along these lines, I highly recommend Rich Hess’s thoughts on the Khan article and our history of overhyping and misusing technology.)
But I’m slowly being swayed. On the positive side, a bunch of smart people I know are pretty certain that this really is a disruptive innovation and that things will never be the same once parents realize they can truly direct their children’s education. Also, I’ve read a bunch of RTT-D applications, and, for the most part, they provide some confidence that some LEAs are serious about using newer technologies to truly change instruction.
On the pessimistic side, lots of people predicted that NCLB choice and SES were
The cumbersome, inscrutable title is the first clue that something is not right: “Vision for the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3): Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards.”
Welcome to the social studies follies. We might thank the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) for ensuring—so far, anyway—that this jumble is not portrayed as “national standards” for social studies. Instead, it’s the beginning of a “framework” for states intending to re-think their own academic standards in social studies, a hodge-podge part of the K-12 curriculum.
It’s not the actual framework, however. That is promised for sometime next year. What we have today is a six-page “vision” of a “framework for inquiry,” whatever the heck that is supposed to mean. (See also Catherine Gewertz’s perspective in Education Week.)
But this preview document supplies reason to be plenty alarmed about what lies ahead. The second clue is implicit in its opening paragraphs:
The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, currently under development, will ultimately focus on the disciplinary and multidisciplinary concepts and practices that make up the process of investigation, analysis, and explanation which will be informative to states interested in upgrading their social studies standards. It will include descriptions of the structure and tools of the disciplines (civics, economics, geography, and history) as well as the habits of mind common in those disciplines. The C3 Framework will also include an inquiry arc—a set of interlocking and mutually
One of the many reasons I’m a fan of TBFI is that it conducts two types of policy research that are in short supply. The first, which I will talk about today, is in-the-weeds analyses of subjects that others have glossed over. (The second, studies on subjects we didn’t even realize were important, will be discussed in a future post.)
TBFI's latest in-the-weeds analysis is on teacher-union strength; it goes deeper and reveals far more than the conventional wisdom.
Lots of people talk about the value of tough standards; heck, the “transformative nature” of Common Core has become something between a ubiquitous talking point and Gospel for the reform community. But many of those proselytizing, unfortunately, can’t tell you a whit about what’s actually in these supposedly sacred texts.
Well, TBFI gets into the weeds of standards; they’ve been doing this for ages, even before Common Core was conceived and birthed (yes, it’s true, academic-content standards existed before CC!). In recent months, they’ve analyzed the rigor, meaning, and cost of CC, shedding much light on an important but under-investigated matter.
They’ve done similar digging in on the use of school funds and tech advancements—issues that, like CC, have been given a cursory and laudatory treatment by many. See here for my take on the ed-tech research.
The institute’s latest installment in this area is the very good report on state-level unions. The study goes deeper and reveals far more than the conventional wisdom, which holds—simplistically—that unions are omnipotent and
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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