Hear me out. I'm not talking some iRobots society takeover.
But I do think computers are the reason for Common Core's ugly manifestation.
Before computers, there was no way to measure education across the US. It was anybody's guess whether children were actually learning the same academic subjects. Were they really being taught that 3 times 4 equals 12?
Then Scantron was invented.
It seemed to be the answer. Every child would receive a randomized set of questions and if they picked the right answer (filled in the right bubble) then obviously they were learning. Right?
The beauty (and problem) with the scantron was that the computer did all the correcting. No longer did a human teacher need to spend hours pouring through test papers. All she (or he) had to do was feed the scantron sheets into the computer.
And the children learned the art of... estimation.
No longer did children have to get the EXACT answer. They just had to get close enough to pick the right answer.
For example, maybe the kid doesn't know what 3 times 4 is. So she looks at the choices given:
Well, the kid knows that "times" means adding over and over. So "c" and "d" are wrong. Seven is 3 plus 4, so the kid guesses 12. She fills in "b". Correct!
Other kids made designs in their scantrons, which of course doesn't indicate what they know at all.
So the flaws in the system were pretty obvious. How could we know that the kids weren't just really good guessers... and, er, artists?
Lucky for educators, a new system was being invented.
Please Welcome, Common Core
Now, the idea behind Common Core was that we were going to test more than "fill in the bubble" thinking. Because, now the computer has the ability to test a whole essay!
Except, it doesn't, really.
Computers are easy understand. It's all about input and output.
Whether the input is a filled-in bubble or a written essay, the computer has to be told (by the programmers) what is correct and what is not.
Here's the Dilemma:
If the children were allowed to research a topic and write an essay based on that research, the variety of resources the children would find could be in the thousands. We couldn't be certain that the computer would recognize every valid resource and fact as correct.
So, how are we going to make sure children use facts and resources in their essay, that the computer knows to mark correct?
Answer: The research has to be scripted.
And that's why I blame the computers, because
That's Common Core at its core.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)