Around the bend on Common Core

I was just re-reading sections of The Making of Americans by Don Hirsch, preparing to send out some encouraging words to my local district Board of Ed Curriculum Committee, when a new Rick Hess Straight Up shot across my screen.? Apparently, it's not just the local yokels who don't get the concept of background knowledge.? Et tu, Hess?

Between vague standards ? and standard vagueness in this country ranges from the opacity of White Out to a hole you can drive a truck through (though Fordham's recent report paints a slightly rosier picture) ?? and the tests that everyone wants to write for them is this yawning cavern?where curriculum should be. It is a cup and a lip that has spilled hundreds of thousands of kids onto our streets, including those who are very computer savvy, uneducated. And I'll add my scepticisim to that of Checker about the Finlandization of America that Rick sees in a common curriculum.? He prefers the Balkanization that we've lived with for the last half century?

As I pointed out the other day (Habits of Mindlessness), even Ted Sizer got it. As he wrote in Horace's School:

Good schools are places where one gets the stuff of knowledge?that is, crudely, ?the facts? ?where one learns to use that stuff, and where one gets into the habit of such use.

I'm sorry Sizer is not around to help guide us through the Internet revolution (he died in 2009), but unless we get ?the stuff of knowledge? into our Schools of One and educate good reformers like Tom Vander Ark, who, says Hess, is ?a champion of tech-enabled curricular customization,? about the necessity of common knowledge, we are likely to be doing The Same Thing Over and Over -- only faster.

--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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