I am annoyed with, (but still love) Louis CK for coming out against the Common Core, because student anxiety over tests has little to do with the actual standards.
As annoyed as I am, I share this video because I am grateful that he voices his frustration. We are all mad. Now, if I could redirect our anger, I would point it at high-stakes standardized testing before the age of 16… but I digress.
Tears from students over common core math can actually be traced to tears from teachers over common core math. Monkey see, monkey do, right? Teachers are supposed to be the experts, but they have been set up to fail with its implementation.
This NY Times article, Why do Americans Stink at Math? gets to the heart of the common core shift away from procedural teacher centered math pedagogy. ‘I We You’, the practice of modeling a procedure, performing it together as a class, and then asking students to repeat it independently, is so fear-based and controlling. It speaks to school-based anxiety over allowing students to make sense of problems on their own. After all, who knows what direction they will steer the conversation in? Who knows how long it will take them to get to the objective, and the one thing we do not have (thanks to yearly standardized tests) is time. But with the proper training and support, a deemphasis on accountability, and beginning to use assessments to inform teacher practices, we might just be on to something. So, we must acknowledge that we pass on anxiety to our students, and we owe it to them to improve our practice so that they can do more than just poorly copy what we do.
Still not convinced that the common core curriculum (minus high-stakes testing) has some merit? Put the broad brushes away, take a look at the Common Core Math Practice Standards and decide for yourself.