The Common Core Standards – Keeping Our Kids Dumb

It may be a knee-jerk reaction on my part, but I’m suspicious of political efforts in education. Fundamentally, I don’t think the real intent and motivation is to help children. The quote from the Standards web site brings up a number of questions and thoughts.

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

From: http://www.corestandards.org/

  • Why do we want all students to learn the same things?
  • Do children who are homeless need to learn the same things as others?
  • Do children living in big cities need to learn the same things as others?
  • How can the same content be relevant and meaningful to all students?
  • Why is content (information) the most important thing to learn?
  • Shouldn’t we be teaching children how to find and evaluate information, rather than having them learn this content?
  • Shouldn’t we be valuing children’s diverse styles, interests, individual personalities, contexts, etc?
  • Why is certain knowledge (and there’s a lot) not addressed in the core standards?
  • Who decides (I couldn’t find the list of people involved in developing the standards, but the “voices of support” are politicians and business people with one exception) what content to include?
  • What is their agenda?
  • Who is going to benefit from demanding one set of standards for all children?
  • What are their philosophical orientations?
  • What is the depth and extent of their experience and knowledge of child development, child psychology, learning and cognition, teaching, curriculum theory, cultural epistemology, and so forth?
  • How can anyone think that they know what is “good” for all children (seems like an error of hubris to me)?
  • While stating a desire to help children succeed in “college and careers,”
    • how do they know what each child needs to succeed (whatever that means)?
    • why is education about “success”; what does “success” mean?
    • why is education about careers and what careers are valued? Is waste disposal (garbage collector) a valued career
    • why should all children go to college?
  • What would happen if all kids were “successful” at the school game? What would this look like? Who would benefit?

The key to understanding this effort is found in the last sentence. The entire political motivation is about money, about economic competitiveness, or about economic domination. The whole approach is based in a global corporate agenda. I couldn’t find any reference to social justice, ecology, or the environment. These ideas are not of concern to the corporate agenda. In fact, they are a threat to this agenda.

The approach is mechanistic (as if children were little non-human robots) and positivistic. We’re in the middle of a revolution as the worldviews of positivism and mechanism, having created life-threatening and culturally disconnecting problems, are being challenged by more holistic and complex worldviews. We’re witnessing the kicking and screaming of positivists and mechanists as their materialistic and narrow views of power and control are being undermined. It’s the middle of a revolution. Our consumerism is eating back on itself. Within the context of economic growth, consumerism, and materialism, we’re destroying families, cultures, and the environment upon which we depend for our very survival.

About Jeff Bloom

I’m a Researcher with and am on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute and am a professor emeritus with the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Northern Arizona University.

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