Friday, August 05, 2011

Beyond Common Core Standards
[Cross posted from Education Elements]

National standards do indeed have the potential to indoctrinate, not to mention become thin and stale. Yes they seem fresh and democratic now, but mainly to people already part of the educracy.

Look, we got into this mess because education was being driven by a handful of national textbook companies and two national teachers unions. Switching the power to a handful of vocal state experts groups may well nail the standards at this precise moment. But it's not a recipe for long term innovation and adjustment.

The world is changing too fast. How can one group know what is needed in times of such change?

Is static math even the prime thing we should be teaching?

You'll find few in this game who understand the uses of math as I do; I took eighteen years of math with me to the development of the world's most complex avionics system. I've used math from radar mapping to terrain following flight software to satellite positioning to communications, and down to finance, to land surveying and to 120V power distribution in public parks.

Yet maybe there's study more appropriate than math. Maybe K-12 students should be learning more of computer science: arrays and stacks and hashes. Perhaps the should be learning these things in 8th grade while they are programming them in Ruby. And so perhaps they should be learning in 7th grade the basics of Ruby programming.

So, for example, standard 7.G.demands that students (in 7th grade) draw triangles and note that they have angles and sides. Isn't that extremely boring for a wide swath of students? What if they were instead inputting code for dynamic geometric sketches over at SketchPad? Wouldn't that be a step far ahead?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The standards are leveling the playing field for more publishers AND those of us that want to put out free curriculum. How has elementary school math (k-5) changed in the past several decades?

In moaning and groaning over learning stem and leaf and box and whisker (is this really necessary?), we came to the conclusion that it can show a student to think in terms of programming.

Some of the stuff in there is weird but I think it is a great start.