Common Core: There is Hope

The shift toward a nationalized agenda within the educational sector has long been in the works. ‘Common core’ curriculum or otherwise known to reformists, parents, students, and administrators as the potential death of public education has become the standardized scapegoat within the educational spectrum. Article after article has demonstrated that this push to a nationalized educational structure is promoting a rush towards socialism and is diminishing the rights of the states to deal with education. Despite some flaws within common core (like most other enacted legislation), the concept and design of ‘the core’ is actually quite intriguing; especially to a future educator.

The difficulty in grasping the positives of common core are often led by teachers who ‘don’t want to be told how to teach,’ or parents who don’t want the government to tell teachers what and how to teach.’ However, in all actuality, common core does neither. Ultimately, the teacher is the one presenting information to students and they are able to do so however they would like. There are ‘guidelines‘ not necessarily standards that common core presents, but in order to promote both equity and equality within education shouldn’t there be some sort of basis or foundation to allow teachers to build off of? Most teachers are going to use common core or any generalized curriculum as a foundation in which they can utilize as a starting point, bring outside sources or varying teaching methods to the table, and educate students to the fullest of their abilities. Common core or any generalized curriculum allow teachers to have a basis to work with, but then add to the basis through allowing the teacher to add in supplemental material. However, there will be other teachers (typically considered ‘bad’ teachers) that will manipulate the system and use the curriculum to their advantage by simply negating any additional teaching materials and techniques and blaming common core on inadequately education students. This (like in any system) is quite inevitable.

The ‘core’ also promotes unification among schools to demonstrate some sort of proportional knowledge being displayed across the states. With an increasing number of migrant workers moving around the country, common core promotes the ability for a student to have a less difficult time transitioning from one school to another. In turn, this promotes a more equal opportunity to students that are constantly moving and switching schools.

Today, there are still issues with the common core curriculum. The mathematics curriculum sometimes seems overly complicated when dealing with simple math. In addition, the ‘core’ also hinges on statistical methods of analysis (a child is not a statistic) However, despite curriculum and evaluation issues, there are positives to take away from the overall aesthetic of common core. The system is far from perfect, but once states begin to use common core as a set of guidelines (not standards), public education might be headed on the right path.


Autism Awareness Month: An IDEA to Include

Every April, we celebrate the tens of millions world-wide who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism. It is a month dedicated to remember equality and to understand those who are affected with the disease. Currently, an estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. This is a disease that affects so many and is sometimes left undiagnosed.

As this month is celebrated, we must also remember and celebrate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which has provided millions of Americans with infinite resources and opportunities. The act has reduced ‘segregation’ and prejudice among Americans, as those with disabilities are integrated among those who are without disabilities. This has especially been important in schools as children who suffer from disabilities are no longer placed in a room with only those with disabilities, but are free to be in non-special education classes. This act has also greatly affected those with autism and has allowed them the chance to become apart of society as opposed to their past role outside of society.

I have seen inclusion work from an early age. In third grade, I became friends with a classmate who had autism. We sang songs together, I gave him help in class when he needed it, and we even sat next to each other in class. From third grade we moved to fourth and fourth to fifth and eventually we graduated together. He was active in music programs and even though he was provided a teacher aid he was just as smart as those in his classes. You could tell he was slightly different from the rest of the kids in his class, but when he interacted with others and/or gave an answer in class, he sparkled, he inspired, he was simply incredible.

All students regardless of disability should be given that opportunity to sparkle. It is with my experience that I love inclusion. Inclusion allows both those with disabilities and those without to smile and have fun together. We shouldn’t neglect or forget about those with disabilities and place them in a special room, we must include them. They learn from us and we learn from them.

Now, there are special circumstances regarding disabilities and inclusion that might need to be thought of. Some students with disabilities simply can’t handle long school days and/or handle the classroom setting. Not all students with disabilities can be fully included in core classes simply because they might distract the class or they can’t handle the class. That is totally acceptable, however we must also interact and include these students with disabilities in outside classes such as recess, gym, lunch, and/or classes that prepare students for jobs after high school. This is incredibly important.

I can’t help but feel that my experience with inclusion has shaped not only my life but the life of my autistic classmate and friend. And I know everyone deserves an equal chance and everyone deserves to be included.

Make this April an opportunity to include not exclude someone with a disability.



Where is World Education in The American Curriculum?

The subject Social Studies is often overlooked and typically overshadowed by subject areas that are tested on federal and state exams. Within these Social Studies classes are opportunities for students to incorporate critical thinking and learn about the basis of life in not only their own culture, but cultures that are far from their own. However, even when these classes such as world history are taught, the curriculum isn’t there to support outside cultures nor are teachers actually prepared to teach such material.

World history as it stands today is mostly considered European history. A statistic has shown that roughly 60% of the curriculum of world history textbooks is related to Europe alone. This leaves about 40% devoted to Asia, Africa, and South America (as Australia is often linked into European history, although it is not often stressed). Even when these other countries are mentioned or are taught, they are often linked to Europe. For example, students who learn about Africa often learn of Egypt (who came in contact with Europeans) and the Triangular Trade (which is more European history than African).

This idea that world history is primarily European is subject to opinion, but to me world history is more than learning about European interactions. The world history curriculum needs to identify with cultures OUTSIDE the European circle. For example, why not learn about different cultures in Togo and how they have developed. The informational perspective is not so important, however students would be able to grasp a culture outside their own and realize that the world around them isn’t solely a European cultured world.

It is often I find world history teachers that only teach about Europe primarily because a) they’re training isn’t specialized in the field and b) the curriculum goals are set to primarily feature Europe.

Why should this happen? Are we left leaving an impression to the children that Europe is the feature of the world? Does this in turn promote white supremacy in that the European whites are essentially the only people worth learning about?

This is a difficult subject to understand as not a lot of literature and articles have been written about such a touchy subject.

What are you’re thoughts?

an education reform blog


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