professornana (professornana) wrote,

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The common

Given the definition of the word common, I wonder why the adjective is applied to the new cure-it-all national curriculum. Here are the various definitions I found online this afternoon.

belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property; common interests.
For the states which have adopted the CCSS, there is supposed to be a common quality in terms of the ELA and Math curriculum (with other content areas to follow). So, if a student moves from one location to another, they will ostensibly be in the same place on the same page no matter where they move. Of course, this will depend on how the CCSS is implemented. And there is no evidence right now exactly how this is going to happen. Will one anchor standard be taught first and then others subsequently? Will the same texts be used on the same day in the same way? I shudder to think this will be the case. I suspect it will NOT happen this way. So, how exactly is this a common set? If a student moves from one state to a different one, it is possible that he or she will miss out on some standard or perhaps repeat one. And, again, I am not sure this is a bad thing either since repetition is something that is essential to deeper learning, to becoming more expert. But, on to another definition.
pertaining or belonging equally to an entire community, nation, or culture; public: a common language or history; a common water-supply system.
Are the standards I am reading really the shared vision of what ELA should include? Since the professional literacy organizations were not given a seat at the CCSS table, I doubt any claim that the standards included are the best or even the most appropriate for each and every learner. The language obfuscates as well meaning that only a rare few will be able to interpret it and explain it (intentional perhaps?).
joint; united: a common defense.
It seems to me that many of us are dis-jointed and dis-united. Perhaps this is because it is a top down measure once again. Top down dictates in education are about as flawed as trickle down economics (how did that work for you?). Unless there is some consensus building early on, these approaches tend to fail.
widespread; general; ordinary: common knowledge.
Well, if states wanted federal funds, they had to jump through the Race to the Top hoops and agree to this. Widespread it is. Rather like a cholera outbreak, though IMHO. As for it being common knowledge, since once again CCSS was created without the advice and consent of literacy leaders, I doubt that the common core is really common or core.
of frequent occurrence; usual; familiar: a common event; a common mistake.
Where is the evidence base that these standards are the most essential? Where is the research about narrative nonfiction? Where are the studies about what kids need for college or career that are reflected in these standards?
Lots of questions. Few answers. If you would like to see something good that uses the phrase common, take a look at the Learning (Creative) Commons. Instead of this being a dictate, it establishes some priorities for schools and school libraries. Even the standards that guide our LS program (AASL Standards) are presented with research cited for each and we are given much latitude in the ways we will address each and every one of them If you want to read more about commons in librarianship, here are a few web sites:

Of course, the basic question I have about the impetus behind CCSS is this: is it the duty/job/responsibility of schools to prepare kids for college and career? Or is the larger job/responsibility/duty to show kids how to be better citizens of the community and the larger world, how to locate and use and create information? I know MY answer. I worry that CCSS is yet another way to limit the scope of what we can and should be doing in the classroom. Part of that worry is embedded in the outlines I see in ELA, a topic I will take up in subsequent posts.
Tags: ccss, commonalities
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