Monday, January 20, 2014

Uncommon Thoughts on Common Core

Manufacturing a product requires uniformity.  It requires that any specific unit meet rigid specifications so that any one unit of a given product when pulled off an assembly line will be identical within specifications and performance.  This process assures the end user that the product will perform uniformly in the task for which it was designed. 

When it comes to human beings uniformity is not what nature seeks, rather within the biological sphere a measure of uniformity with diversity is the rule.  The wolf pack has uniformity but within the wolf pack some individuals develop into leaders and others followers.  It could be determined by genetics or environmental factors, probably both.

In the educational environment the federal government is precluded by law from interfering with state level curricula and standards.  It is “uniformly” the nature of governments that they wish to control whatever they can.  It will assume this control on every level by whatever means available.  In the case of education it would appear to me that the ultimate desire is to “produce” the model citizen, compliant and obedient and productive with the least amount of diversity.  Each citizen unit would go about its daily activity as determined by the “Swartzman-Heimlichen” test (I made it up) which determines the best ability of individual serial number 000-00-0000.  Failure to perform to the standard would be a failed product.

Now since the feds are mandated by law not to directly control or effect educational curricula and objectives other means must be found that could generate the influence needed to go around the law.  Now comes big business, which has a not-so-bad goal of generating a profit.  Big business has found that information that the general public deems insignificant is in fact worth a fortune.  Hence business will follow the citizens as they shop, do business, and participate in hobbies with a huge variety of interests.  This information is then used to market to the consumer products in which they have an interest and it all adds up to big bucks.  If you become a “person of interest” then big business will share your private and personal information with big government. 

Liberty on the other hand tends to take on the rough and tumble picture of organized chaos.  It has been described as like trying to herd cats.  Felines do not respond well to control and herding.  They are independent and not really herd animals, like say for instance, sheep or cattle.  It makes things so much easier to CONTROL if the product will perform in a uniform predictable and well trained group manner.  Therefore for purposes of efficiency it is important that training take place early and be uniform in manner.  Training obedience and compliance to the will of the master becomes the goal.  It becomes important to identify early those individual units who are not uniform and not compliant; people kind of like Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, and well, you get it.  These defective units will need special attention and special remedial training in order to assure compliance to the demands of the master. 

I would agree that training is important.  I would declare that pounding children and school systems nationwide into one big uniform mold is counterproductive.  Small can be beautiful.  Small systems can adapt more easily to change.  Large organizations tend to be slow to respond to mistakes and slow to respond to changes which may lead to improvement. 

Diversity in education while still maintaining important key educational basic goals can be a good thing.  It may make it more difficult to “manage” or “herd” from the top down but I would look to the past and see that a country has been built into the leader of the free world without top down centralized direction in education.

I feel no need for big business or big government to spy on me and track me and follow my every move; in fact they need to stay out of my business both private and personal.  I do not need or want these entities intruding in my life. 

One of my favorite authors Robert A. Heinlein wrote the following:  “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.”

I have so much respect for many of our local educators.  Many have gone out of their way to help educate my kids.  I don’t dare list them, I will leave someone out.  I don’t think they need direction from on high from either George Bush’s program, no child left behind, or the latest iteration to be promoted through the current administration known as Common Core, which is just another method of producing a product which is uniform and ‘common.’  Sometimes uncommon is best. 

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