Every week, before I sit down to write my weekly post for this blog, I assist my 8 year old son with his homework. This may not be his favorite part of the day, as he would rather play Minecraft or read his “The Flash” comic book he picked up over the weekend. However, I love being able to spend time with him and take a very active and deliberate role in his formal education. Most weeks, we work on some type of reading comprehension and math.
As my son is in 2nd grade, I was able to relate to the social media posts by North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer last week. I am not sure where Cramer’s son Abel attends school, but his work very much looks like some of the homework I have done with my children. I will be honest, and admit, like many parents, from time to time I have had to do a little research and have had some very humbling conversations with my kids in order to understand what they are supposed to be doing. It appears to me, by Cramer’s tweets, that he is having a very similar humbling experience.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]However, if you listen to the opponents of Common Core, it is some sort of a big liberal plot to change the world. If you are against Common Core, chances are very likely you believe the President of the United States is a Muslim Communist who was not even born in this country. You are also very likely to be against public schooling in general and support home schooling.[/mks_pullquote]
However, Cramer has decided the problem with his inability to understand 2nd grade math has nothing to do with him not being a professional educator, but has everything to do with Common Core. As I will be the first to admit I do not understand all the complexities of Common Core and its effects on 2nd grade math, I asked a friend of mine who is a grade school teacher to take a look at the problems that frustrated my Congressman and ask if it was related to Common Core.
According to my contact, the style of math being used by Abel has nothing to do with Common Core, but rather a dedication to better preparing children to succeed in more advanced mathematics in the future. To keep it simple, teachers attempt to teach students that there is more than one way to obtain a mathematical answer. In comparison to the learning style that was used when I was in Elementary school 30 some years ago, which relied heavily on memorization and formality, today’s style of learning focuses more on developing critical thinking skills and problem solving in mathematics.
I think that considering how American students have consistently fallen behind the rest of the world in the study of mathematics, a change in how we teach our children is very appropriate.
I find it interesting that Cramer is so quick to blame his inability to understand 2nd grade math on the big bad enemy of Conservatives called Common Core. Common Core, of cores is a nationwide effort which established educational standards and make certain that students graduating from high school are prepared for college and to enter the workforce.
However, if you listen to the opponents of Common Core, it is some sort of a big liberal plot to change the world. If you are against Common Core, chances are very likely you believe the President of the United States is a Muslim Communist who was not even born in this country. You are also very likely to be against public schooling in general and support home schooling.
In short, most of the anti-Common Core crowd should not be taken seriously in efforts to make our school system better.
Now I want to make something very clear, I do thing we should have an ongoing debate on how to make our school systems better. I will be the first to admit that from time to time, I had some pretty lousy teachers in the public school system. However, to this day, I give a huge amount of credit to my 5th grade teacher with making learning fun for me at a very pivotal point of my life. As I say in my bio, I give credit to my High School Social Studies teacher for allowing me to challenge him almost daily on his love of everything Conservative.
I believe that teachers should be well compensated professionals, that teaching jobs should be much sought after, and only held by teachers who are constantly striving to improve their craft. I believe that our schools should be cathedrals of learning, constantly striving to improve the outcomes of our children. I believe that parents should be actively engaged in the learning process, supporting the teachers in their efforts.
Sadly, in talking with my friends who are teachers, very few parents share this vision. Many parents are less than engaged in there children’s education, and when their children struggle, they are quick to blame the system rather than their child or themselves.
It appears my US Congressman is part of this group of parents. Because why challenge yourself when you can blame big, bad Common Core for your inability explain math completed by 2nd graders all across the country?