The authors of the Common Core Standards repeatedly assure us that the Standards don't advocate any particular educational philosophy. And yet as we see time and again, they are consistently being showcased by prominent publications as favoring the dominant Constructivist paradigm. Again and again we read about how teachers are struggling to assign even more interdisciplinary projects, even more discovery learning, even more group activities, and even more talking about math--all in the name of the Common Core Standards.
Here, for example, is the latest from the New York Times:
New curriculum standards known as the Common Core that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia could raise the bar in math. “As math has become more about talking, arguing and writing, it’s beginning to require these kinds of cultural resources that depend on something besides school,” said Deborah L. Ball, dean of the school of education at the University of Michigan.It's not clear whether Deborah Ball sees this as a good thing; the Times article, on the other hand, implicitly raises concerns. Its focus is actually not on the Common Core, but on how much easier it is for schools to raise aptitude in math than in reading:
Studies have repeatedly found that “teachers have bigger impacts on math test scores than on English test scores,” said Jonah Rockoff, an economist at Columbia Business School. He was a co-author of a study that showed that teachers who helped students raise standardized test scores had a lasting effect on those students’ future incomes, as well as other lifelong outcomes.
Teachers and administrators who work with children from low-income families say one reason teachers struggle to help these students improve reading comprehension is that deficits start at such a young age: in the 1980s, the psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that by the time they are 4 years old, children from poor families have heard 32 million fewer words than children with professional parents.
...All true, and very concerning in terms of what it takes for schools to close the achievement gap. Math, ideally, should be less of a concern:
Reading also requires background knowledge of cultural, historical and social references. Math is a more universal language of equations and rules.
Education experts also say reading development simply requires that students spend so much more time practicing.
By contrast, children learn math predominantly in school. “Your mother or father doesn’t come up and tuck you in at night and read you equations,” said Geoffrey Borman, a professor at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin. “But parents do read kids bedtime stories, and kids do engage in discussions around literacy, and kids are exposed to literacy in all walks of life outside of school.”
“Math is really culturally neutral in so many ways,” said Scott Shirey, executive director of KIPP Delta Public Schools in Arkansas. “For a child who’s had a vast array of experiences around the world, the Pythagorean theorem is just as difficult or daunting as it would be to a child who has led a relatively insular life.”Well, that's how it should be. But the fact is that, under Reform Math, language and culture are already embedded in math classes, to the detriment of those with deficits in reading and background knowledge. And along these lines, the article gets something else wrong as well. Quoting Linda Chen, deputy chief academic officer in the Boston Public Schools, it states:
While reading has been the subject of fierce pedagogical battles, “the ideological divisions are not as great on the math side as they are on the literacy side.”Right. And pigs have wings, the Pope is Jewish, and the Common Core Standards are pedagogically neutral.