Federal and State Standard, and Local Curriculum Guidelines – Disturbing Documents

I’ve been examining local, state, and federal curriculum guidelines and standards over the past week or so. And, I’m shocked at what people have put together.

I’ve never been a fan of standards and prescriptive curricula, so reading these documents have been difficult to stomach from the beginning, but what I’ve been finding is quite disturbing. I probably can write a book on the analysis of the science learning standards alone, but I don’t have the time or interest, at least at this point. However, I will list a few of the more shocking things I’ve found in this blog entry.

  • There are a surprisingly large number of conceptual content errors, such as:
    • Three states of matter instead of 4 (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma). The latter state is the most common in the universe, too.
    • Velocity is direction and not speed plus direction.
    • They refer to 3 characteristics of cells, when there are at least 4 characteristics.  At this point, the characteristics are (a) cells have a surrounding membrane, (b) cells have cytoplasm containing all of the organelles, (c) cells have DNA in and/or out of the nucleus, and (d) cells have RNA for carrying information with the cell.
    • They refer to Plants and Animals as the two Kingdoms,when there are at least 6 Kingdoms, depending on what theoretical framework and research one is using. These Kingdoms are: Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protists, Bacteria, and Archaebacteria.

Then, the authors of these standards and curriculum guidelines just leave out important concepts. In one document, “force” is omitted entirely when talking about motion. I don’t know how you can talk about motion and not talk about force.

But, even more disturbing are:

  • The attempts to cover a large number of conceptual areas in short periods of time.
  • The introduction of very difficult concepts to young children without the necessary background experiences and knowledge to help them develop meaningful and deep understandings.
  • The same old attempt at determining what subject matter content is “covered” at what time and in what grade.

The people who worked on these standards and curriculum guidelines have not gotten past the positivistic and mechanistic approaches to teaching. The results of such standards and curricula include damaging children even further. The number of new vocabulary words are overwhelming, not to mention how some very difficult concepts are attempted, where even university students have trouble with these concepts.

These documents are deeply disturbing. It’s as if the designers of these documents are clueless about children, how they learn, and classroom teaching. The documents are a pitiful attempt at trying to control every last detail of children’s learning. The national science standards have all but done away with inquiry. They say to “demonstrate” inquiry. They do not say engage children in inquiry. So, children are going to be left memorizing material for tests, while their curiosity, interests, and passions are dismissed and suppressed.

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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One Response to Federal and State Standard, and Local Curriculum Guidelines – Disturbing Documents

  1. Aidan Ward says:

    Full of dormitive principles! Non-explanations that obfuscate the mess that adults have made of understanding the world. Confusions on top of confusions. But how could it be otherwise in a Stalinist system?

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