Of all the stupid examples of “Common Core” I’ve seen

This has to be the dumbest:

The correct answer is simple: “There is not enough information.” The very first word problems I ever remember were focused on simply knowing how to read the problem and whether there was enough information, not enough information, or too much information. It’s on every standardized test: “D. There is not enough information to solve this problem.”

I’m as pro-homeschooling/”parents are the primary educators of their children”/subsidiarity anti-educational bureaucracy as the next paleocon. I’ve seen some legitimate complaints about “Common Core,” besides the complete destruction of local authority and academic freedom, such as math problems where the solution is “the most correct,” rather than simply “correct.” One of the first such examples was something like 357 + 249 =
Students were asked to use multiple methods of estimation to show that the answer could be estimated at 500, or estimated at 600, but the “most correct” response was 606-or whatever the particular numbers were in the example. Recognizing the importance of estimation as a step, I still think it’s stupid to confuse the issue by using “multiple answers” in one problem, and saying that the “correct” answer is “the most correct.” After all, if math is subjective, then everything is, and if that’s how accountants and bureaucrats do math, that explains both our government and corporate America.

Nonetheless, many examples of how bad “common core” supposedly is seem to say more about the people presenting them. If I see a hand-written example of a “Common Core Assignment,” and the person can’t spell properly, it kind of diminishes their credibility. It would be nice to see the original assignment photocopied, as presumably in this case.

Many of the “Common Core” math strategies that get criticized are the same strategies that have been used successfully for years by private tutoring services and charter schools–the same ones that NCLB-type (neo)conservatives advocate as being so much more effective than “failed” public schools.
Similarly, (neo)conservatives complain about how we’re failing to “compete” with schools in other countries, or how kids in the US were expected to know far more by the time they finished 8th grade 100 years ago than they’re required to know today, how to get into college 100 years ago you needed Latin and Greek but now people graduate college without basic English, etc., yet suddenly it’s “Why is my kid being required to know this in elementary school when I didn’t learn it until middle school or high school?”
Those kinds of self-contradictory arguments only serve to undermine our cause, especially when they come from homeschoolers.
People get so reflexively angry about “Common Core” that they want to search out any fault they can find and then shoot the messenger when told that the fault they’re finding isn’t in the problem.

As the saying goes, “There are three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.”
I’d say it’s more like, good at math, good at elementary math but not higher, good at higher but not lower, and just not good at math. I’m in the third category. My brain isn’t wired for memorization, partly because I want to understand how things work. Common Core seems to be targeted at explaining processes, so kids are better prepared for higher level math, but it doesn’t work for those whose brains are wired for memorization, and that is the real problem with “Common Core,” No Child Left Behind, and everything in between: you can’t standardize education because you can’t standardize people.


One response to “Of all the stupid examples of “Common Core” I’ve seen

  1. Theodore Seeber

    Hard to photocopy a screen. Much of Common Core testing is now done on computer with truly randomized multiple choice answers (as opposed to my 1988 Government core class, which when I realized I could get an A with only 21 questions right on the final, I carefully answered the first 21 questions in 10 minutes, then took a ruler and marked “C” down the scantron in all 4 categories. Got a 78% right on the test).

    So take a picture with a cameraphone instead 🙂

    Otherwise exactly right. For 68% of students, Common Core will be the best thing that could have possibly happened in their school career. For the rest, can you say “Do you want fries with that?”

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