Monday, October 10, 2016

More Common Core Conversations with the Community

Today I had a plumber come to my house.  While he was working on my kitchen sink, I was working on school work.  So for small talk, he started a conversation about education.  He told me how he was at another mom's house and she was so mad at this Common Core!  She said that her son was made to miss a recess because he was not solving math problems on paper, but rather in his head.  She couldn't believe that the teacher would be so nit picky, and if an answer is right, than an answer is right.  In my mind I thought about the time I had used to think like this parent too, before I had studied the logic and reasoning behind the Common Core standards.   Now I know that Common Core stresses different ways to solve problems so the students' minds are broadened and they are able to look at problems from multiple perspectives, and then solve them using multiple strategies, which is what I imagine the teacher is trying to teach to this young boy.  Now, the loss of recess, that is another issue...  for another post...

This conversation led to my plumber revealing that he had a toddler at home right now.  He was really worried about what would happen when he entered formal school under the Common Core regime.  He said that since he was of the older generation, he was completely clueless and wouldn't be able to help him with assignments.  I tried to assure that his son would most likely be okay, actually he probably would be better equipped than the students currently in my fourth grade class.  My students have the added disadvantage of being literally thrown into the Common Core education system completely unprepared.  Any student that is in 2nd through 12th grade have been thrown into the system.   What I mean is that they did not get the luxury of having been instructed in Common Core practices in previous grades.  The fortunate students are the ones in kindergarten and 1st grade right now.  They started their schooling under Common Core standards and are being properly trained and every grade will build upon this knowledge.   Once they get into my class, 4th grade, they will have all the background needed to fully participate and understand at the level I am supposed to teach.  That child that was having trouble solving math problems outside his head, should not struggle so much with learning different strategies because he will be used to learning different strategies beginning from age five.  Now I know this sounds very idealistic, and it is, but I have great hope that all teachers will work together to make it that easy for students.

Something else that my plumber said surprised me.  He said that he would not be able to help his son with his education because his generation knew absolutely nothing about Common Core.   I so disagreed with him!   Common Core Standards are all about creating creative thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators, and communicators, the four C's.   Because of this, when robots supposedly take over all the jobs of the world, teachers and plumbers, among other career choices that entail problem solving, will be safe.  The reason we will be safe is that robots can't creatively think, problem solve, collaborate, and communicate like we can in our professions.  This plumber cannot be replaced and he can transfer these necessary 21st Century Skills to his son.  Just like the example he personally gave me about the teacher who wouldn't take one solution for a math problem, but wanted various solutions, his job entails looking for different solutions to problems that arise in someone's plumbing.  Those skills are golden and he already has them.

It was interesting talking to the plumber today about Common Core and the future of education.  It reminded me of the discussion I had with my waitress a couple weeks back about the same issue.  So many parents want to help their students but they are clueless about how to do it.  They don't know that they possess the skills already, and just need to transfer them to their children.  They need to talk with them, listen to them, show them what they do in their own occupations.  All that information prepares them for their future, and that's all that Common Core is, preparing students to use their brains for the future.


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