Thursday, November 07, 2013

Does Common Core Align with Danielson?

I look at the Danielson Rubric and I see an awful lot about engaging the students. Active, happy kids are a big plus if they're using the Danielson Rubric. You want them to be asking questions on their own, to know there are procedures in place, and to remind one another what they are. You want them in groups, and you want the groups established for some reason or other.

And yet, Common Core is all about rigor. You read how David Coleman, or whatever expert they have this week, says no one wants to know how kids feel. That's not important. The important thing is to get them to read archaic documents with language no one uses anymore, and to have them answer incredibly difficult questions. And just in case they accidentally slip in anything that's fun in any way, you will analyze it so deeply that every last drop of fun will be utterly squeezed out of it.

I always thought how people feel is important. In fact, I thought if you read things that touched your feelings in some way, you'd like them better. I always try to find things like that for kids to read, so that reading becomes a positive experience for them. Yet now, with Common Core telling us that To Kill a Mockingbird is for fourth graders, we need to have them read incredibly tedious and difficult things or it won't be rigorous enough.

I love to read. Left to my own devices, I prefer fiction. I can do non-fiction too if I'm interested. In fact, if I'm not interested, I can plod through whatever. I read quite a few things for college that I didn't particularly adore. Beowulf springs to mind somehow.

I'm trying to imagine how I'd run an exciting or interesting class if I had to teach Beowulf to ESL students. Or if we sat and read train schedules. What time will NYC Educator reach the moon if he forces 34 teenagers at a time to read tedious crap? What sort of message are we sending our kids if we force them, from the time they're children, to read tedious crap?

The best readers are those who love to read. I don't know of little kids who fantasize about reading law books. I do know people who want to be lawyers, people who read everything, and then read the law books when they're required. But before you make the kids read "rigorous" (read "tedious") things, it's smart to make them love reading rather than hate it.

Then they'll be successful, instead of bitter and frustrated. That's why Reformy John King sends his own children to Montessori Schools, that's why Obama sends his to Sidwell Friends, and that's why Merryl Tisch pays private school tuition, even for the offspring of the help.
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