The ‘Monster’ at the End of the Common Core

Perhaps because I’ve been working with teachers who are well on their way toward full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, once in a while I forget that there is still some resistance to standards in general, and the Common Core in particular, among educators.  Here’s the best response I’ve seen so far:  The ‘Monster’ at the End of the Common Core.  (The title pulled me in — it turns out to be a perfect analogy, which is why I’m shamelessly using it for this post.  But no, group theorists, it’s not that Monster.  Wait — “Friendly Giant”?  Is it blue?)

My only small quibble with the piece is the opening:  “I’m a progressive. A dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore constructivist.”  I understand that Laura Thomas is speaking to fellow self-identified progressive educators, and she does so quite effectively.  But at least one of the authors of the Common Core mathematics standards has said that he took on the project in hopes of ending the Math Wars, and I can just see the former combatants from the “other” side getting twitchy with her flying the constructivist banner right up front.  Am I over-thinking this?  Probably.  In any case I just might send the article to a CC-resistant friend.  I hope he at least reads this part:

I think that, if we’re as smart and committed as we say we are, we can use the common core as a stepping stone to better outcomes for all of our kids. And by “outcomes” I don’t mean just “test scores.” I mean, you know, learning. Engagement. Success.

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About Priscilla Bremser

Professor of Mathematics Middlebury College
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One Response to The ‘Monster’ at the End of the Common Core

  1. Rob Root says:

    Finally got around to reading this piece, and so glad I did! Here is someone who seems to really have good ideas for transforming education. I have to say that her one concrete math example was not very inspiring: measuring perimeter and area for fencing and soil for a school garden. SHe goes on to talk about the choice of plants and if the students were to put together a budget and stick with it, they would get much more out of the experience mathematically. (What’s the most expensive part? can we find a way to make it cheaper? Are there trade-offs among plants and expense to be made?) The more ownership of the project the students are given, the richer the possibilities for success, and the more like Thomas’s description of “mak[ing] research, deep critical thinking, writing, and presentations the norm in the classroom. . . . require that students ‘make sense of problems and persevere in solving them,’ as the math standards state. “

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