I really don’t like Common Core and I’ll tell you why. Its principles are not based on the way that education has always been in this country — the ways that made education in the U.S. to be regarded as the best education in the world. This is because education in the U.S. had always been based on little standardization. It had been European countries that standardized their education. Long consisting of a Class system, the wealthiest citizens of Europe attended private schools where they mostly studied the liberal arts. Then they assumed all the upper class roles in society. There was little mobility between the classes.
The U.S. had always been different. Never emphasizing wealth, education or class, the U.S. was a place where anyone could get ahead. It was based more on hard work, then on a high priced education. It allowed for our great entrepreneurship as people followed their passions rather than a standardized curriculum that an elite education prescribed.
It is a well-known fact that many, if not most, highly successful entrepreneurs dropped out of college — some dropped out of high school. Once these people found their passions, they no longer required further studies. They could learn everything they needed on their own.
Another factor for the success of American education is the rapid pace of technological change. Success in the U.S. had always been based on staying ahead of the curve, being the first to develop a new technology. That can’t happen when everyone studies the same thing. People need to search out and find their best passions. In the U.S., colleges and universities had always been different from one another, each aligning its curriculum to the unique characteristics of the geographic area and citizens. For example, state universities in the Midwest became leaders in the areas of agriculture and crop development. These universities worked alongside the industries in their immediate environment to conduct research and develop new products.
We need to return to an emphasis on a non-standardized education. We don’t need a common core. Schools and teachers know what students should learn in regards to basic reading, writing and arithmetic. We don’t need to outline all this with massive standards. After students reach a level of basic proficiency, they should be allowed to follow their passions. Teachers should be able to teach according to their passions as well. Teachers need to make the education relevant, and the best way to do that is to align curriculum to what’s in the immediate environment of the students. It is the teachers that will know this the best.
Technology can assist with non-standard education when we introduce on-line courses, simulations, games and other internet sources to students. Students need more choices, especially in the later grades and throughout life. Only then will they be able to align their learning to their passions. Once students develop that motivation that can only happen when they are in charge of their own learning, will they be able to make solid breakthroughs in innovation and entrepreneurship, they way it had always been in our land of opportunity.
Chris Bernat is the author of Individualized Learning with Technology – Meeting the Needs of High School Students – a book about how learning can be individualized for older students, starting in high school and continuing throughout life. Visit her site at www.learnthroughlife.com.