I’ve been teaching for eleven years. Each year, it seems there is a new focus or method we are supposed to embrace. One year, it was thinking maps. We were expected to use them with every lesson. They were the big “thing” that year, and were supposed to greatly enhance student learning. When I taught first grade reading, direct phonemic instruction was THE method for a few years. Reading was all about decoding letter sounds. A few years later, the focus completely shifted to whole language. Students learned to read by making sense of the story and pictures, with letter sounds taking a decisive backseat.
I’ve been in education long enough to see quite a few trends come and go. So when I first started hearing that something called the Common Core was coming, I assumed we were all just jumping on the next short-lived bandwagon. But this bandwagon seems to be arriving with more pomp and circumstance than the others I’ve seen. Teachers all over the nation are talking about it. It seems we are all in a slightly different place with regards to implementation, but we all know that it’s big and it’s coming.
Perhaps Common Core is more than just the latest fad, since for the first time the nation is coming together on specific educational standards and assessment. It certainly makes sense that students across the United States should be learning the same content. However, I do feel that the pedagogical shifts accompanying Common Core seem like the newest supposed magic bullet. Fiction is now supposed to take a backseat to expository text. Conceptual understanding in math is to trump skills memorization.
Is the educational pendulum just swinging again? Or is Common Core really here to stay? I’d be interested in hearing from you.