Why do people insist on viewing the Standards as inconsistent with teacher creativity and choice? I am baffled by such uncreative thinking. That’s like saying the architect cannot be creative because every house has to meet building code. Indeed, the whole point of mandating standards as opposed to curriculum is to free people up to create innovative curriculum that addresses the standards.

You’re an architect: your clients are students. Your job is to develop client-friendly learning that also meets code. How does this restrict freedom?

Here is an obvious illustration of our failure to think imaginatively now. When I started teaching in 1972, the legacy of the ’60s was still in full force in my school. There were all sorts of creative courses: Death and Dying, The Wilderness, Political Philosophy, Ethics, Why Do We Do What We Do? etc.

More importantly, many of these cool courses met the English requirement. In other words, back in the day there was no English 9, 10, 11, 12. rather, there were electives – real freedom of choice for teachers and kids! So, you could meet your English 10 obligations by taking Satire or American Fiction or Shakespeare or Cinema, on a tri-mester system (so you were not stuck with a year-long course you might hate).

There is NOTHING in the Common Core ELA Standards that prohibits you and your colleagues from inventing a similar system of choices. All you would have to do, like the architect, would be to ensure that no matter the choice it was addressing the relevant 9-10 and 11-12 standards. How hard would that be, people?

When I hear everyone endlessly whining about what harm the Standards are doing to creative teaching it has the opposite effect on me that you intend. I think: boy, how unimaginative those teachers are. Glad my kid doesn’t have them.

from Kant’s essay “What is Enlightenment?”:

Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own reason! (tip of the hat to Adam for this!)

PS: from the Standards -

“These Standards do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods. For example, just because topic A appears before topic B in the standards for a given grade, it does not necessarily mean that topic A must be taught before topic B. A teacher might prefer to teach topic B before topic A, or might choose to highlight connections by teaching topic A and topic B at the same time. Or, a teacher might prefer to teach a topic of his or her own choosing that leads, as a byproduct, to students reaching the standards for topics A and B.”


PPS: from the just released HS Publishers Criteria for Common Core in Math:


“Fragmenting the Standards into individual standards, or individual bits of standards … produces a sum of parts that is decidedly less than the whole” (Appendix from the K-8 Publishers’ Criteria). Breaking down standards poses a threat to the focus and coherence of the Standards. It is sometimes helpful or necessary to isolate a part of a compound standard for instruction or assessment, but not always, and not at the expense of the Standards as a whole. A drive to break the Standards down into ‘microstandards’ risks making the checklist mentality even worse than it is today. Microstandards would also make it easier for microtasks and microlessons to drive out extended tasks and deep learning. Finally, microstandards could allow for micromanagement: Picture teachers and students being held accountable for ever more discrete performances. If it is bad today when principals force teachers to write the standard of the day on the board, think of how it would be if every single standard turns into three, six, or a dozen or more microstandards. If the Standards are like a tree, then microstandards are like twigs. You can’t build a tree out of twigs, but you can use twigs as kindling to burn down a tree.”


PPS: Some of the back and forth in the comments is better than my post…

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