Our Education System

Author: Patrick Baker  • 

Every month, I inevitably run into someone who asks me about the Common Core.  What do I think?  What are its merits?  Can it work?  How does Allen Academy use them?

My view is only a view, but I feel like any system that is designed for “all” is flawed from inception.  Like the picture above, we have children in this country with very different intelligences.  Some of those intelligences can be measured by a test, but many still cannot.

While the promise of a universal measuring stick with higher standards across the board is a noble and worthy pursuit, the reality is that the attempts to raise the bar in educating our youth continue to fall short when we compare ourselves to other nations.  But it is not because we have inept children, and it is not because we have a lack of resources going toward education.  The real issue is that we have hundreds of thousands of kids in our country who don’t have their primary needs being met on a daily basis.  A lack of food, water, sleep, shelter, and vision, dental and health care are all enormous factors.  So forget about Common Core… let’s focus on the real “core” issue itself: equity.

There are enormous discrepancies in testing results for students in our public Kindergarten and third grade classrooms, in particular.  This achievement gap requires an acceleration of learning for those students who come from poverty in order to “catch up” with their middle-class peers.

As I have shared before, Common Core is undoubtedly a needed set of standards for our country and is particularly helpful to the public schools in the United States.  The knowledge and skills the Common Core requires are clear and are well constructed so that a student at any grade level within the country should be able to have the same competencies, even if they move across the city, the state, or the country.

For teachers, Common Core offers great standards of practice and models of good practice with respect to teaching and learning.  They seek to elevate the level of professionalism associated with the word “teacher” and what educators should be doing more and more.

At Allen Academy, however, we value authentic learning, teachable moments, and even learning FROM and WITH our students.  We have the freedom and ability to differentiate instruction so that students have both the skills and attitudes to navigate an ever-changing world.

In my view, this adaptive expertise is far greater than having a pre-packaged set of content.  It’s adaptive expertise that allows any of the animals in the photo above to successfully pass “the test.”  By living and learning in an environment that forces critical thinking and celebrates failure, even the fish and the seal can successfully climb the tree.

My best,

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