Greetings, and Welcome to The Small Shoppe

After the example of my Chestertonian mentor, Dr. R. Kenton Craven, I here offer my ponderings and musings for your edification and/or education.

You are welcome to read what is written here, and encouraged to do so. Appropriate comments may well be posted.

Michael Francis James Lee
The Not-so-Small Shoppe-Keeper

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Devil in the Common Core Details

"For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacence of fools destroys them;
But he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil."  Proverbs 1:32-33 (RSV-2CE)

As I prepare this post, the war over the so-called Common Core Curriculum is raging in the various states and school districts (public and parochial) throughout the country.

The protagonists tout the curriculum as being "more vigorous," (which seems code for "more controlled"), less "general," (also code for "more controlled"), and as an instrument to "prepare students for college and careers" (supposedly a novel idea; no curriculum has done this previously?).

The antagonists, unfortunately, are all over the map with their reasons for opposing the curriculum.  They typically point out an objectionable included book here, a politically left-leaning lesson plan and/or assignment there, and other such pieces of the pie which they find -- for one reason or another -- unpalatable.  However, what most do not do is to point out the proverbial devil in the details of the Common Core Curriculum.

The Common Core Curriculum is firmly based in the educational philosophy of John Dewey; empiricism.  In this educational philosophy, the thing of most importance is one's personal experience -- even at the expense of classical and long-tested lessons.

To illustrate, if Hamlet were to be read in a Common Core lesson, the things to be learned would not center on the long accepted moral lessons of this great work of Shakespeare.  
The emphasis would be on the individual student's experience of reading Hamlet.  An assignment might be to imagine you are Fortinbras -- and write a brief essay describing your experience of death in Hamlet.

Obviously, with several or more students, there would be several or more essays describing several or more experiences.  Under Common Core each experience will be affirmed as valid (or true) for that student.  An inescapable conclusion is "my experience is true for me."

The devil in the details of Common Core is that empiricism is the identical twin of moral relativism; "your truth is true for you, and my truth is true for me."  My personal experience, and your personal experience become the dictators of our personal morality, personal ethics, personal values, and personal norms.  There cannot really be any societal norms, nor any cultural mores.  Indeed, there can be no objective truth; personal experience trumps all.

The classics are not studied for their own merits in the Common Core.  The long held moral lessons enshrined in the classics are either ignored or severely downplayed.  After all, it would be wrong to force these preconceived ideas on children -- they must be taught to think critically -- or at least to do so according the definition of the Common Core Curriculum.

Complacence in the face of empiricism will destroy us.

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