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Common Core State [sic] Standards


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    Second Graders and the War of 1812 in New York City

    In an e-mail, Nancy Carlsson-Paige commented on this 1812 Curriculum for seven-year-olds.

    It's hard to even know where to begin with this absurd curriculum, it is wrong on so many levels. Young kids can't make meaning of time and place so distant from their own lives. If they were to grapple with it, it would be in the way Deb Maier describes at Mission Hill--over a long period of time and with the chance to build their own understanding gradually. What is so fundamentally wrong with this Engage New York approach, so deeply wrong, is the focus on content and having facts and correct answers, a focus that requires a fact-based, didactic pedagogy for success. One where kids passively sit while teachers direct teach content that is irrelevant to them and disconnected from the ways that they learn. What happens to children who feel pressure to "learn" topics they can't truly understand? What happens to their sense of themselves as learners, empowered people, problem solvers, decision-makers, future citizens?
    Ohanian afterthought: The only reason I can see for War of 1812 curriculum is to train young kids that war is essential part of being an American.

    By Susan Ohanian

    In New York City, the Common Core curriculum directs seven-year-olds to learn about the War on 1812. The teacher is provided with an Alignment Chart. The chart "demonstrates alignment between the Common Core State Standards and corresponding Core Knowledge Language Arts." It is copyrighted by the Core Knowledge Foundation, founded by E. D. Hirsch.

    This comes after a study of Early Asian Civilizations and The Ancient Greek Civilization.

    Could any topic be more developmentally inappropriate? What is the point here? Are we trying to show young children that war, war, war is a critical part of our heritage? Which ensures they will be just as passive as we are about our continuous assault on other nations.

    Not one American in 100,000 knows what the war was about, and most adults are busy on Social Media, working 16 jobs to pay their mortgage, or whatever. So let's target 7-year-olds as the last hope for War of 1812 Revival. . . .

    Here is the goal for one Standard: Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a nonfiction/ informational read-aloud.

    Here's a Writing Standard goal: Plan and/or draft, and edit an opinion piece in which they introduce a topic, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

    Here are just a few of the many Core Content Objectives for the War of 1812 for Grade 2:

  • Explain that America fought Great Britain for independence

  • Explain that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution

  • Explain that Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from the French [They learned about the importance of the Louisiana Territory in first grade.

  • Explain that Great Britain became involved in a series of wars against France

  • Explain that due to a shortage of sailors, Britain began to impress, or capture, American sailors

  • Explain that some members of the U.S. government began to call for war

  • Identify that the British controlled land in the northern Great Lakes region, the northwestern territories, and Canada

  • And on and on and on. Note that the justification of presenting discrete fact after discrete fact--and to make it Common Core--is to put "Explain" in the behavioristic imperative.

    Teachers are told that in kindergarten the children had already learned that Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and that General Washington led his army to victory even though his army was smaller than the British army.

    Black line activity masters are provided.

    Messages to parents are provided. Here's one:

    Below is a list of some of the words that your child will be learning about and using.
    Try to use these words as they come up in everyday speech with your child.
  • impressment
    The practice of British soldiers forcing other countries' soldiers into the British navy
  • navy
    --The part of the military that protects the nation's interests at sea
  • role
    --Jean Lafitte is a pirate who played an important part, or role, in the Battle of New Orleans.
  • economy
    --The economy of the United States was largely dependent on trade. . . .

  • Andrew Jackson
    Have your child talk about the Andrew Jackson's role in the Battle of New Orleans.

    Discuss how General Andrew Jackson put together an army of militiamen, soldiers, Native Americans, African Americans, farmers, and even pirates to win the Battle of New Orleans. You might want to explain that Andrew Jackson later became the seventh president of the United States.

    é 2013 Core Knowledge Foundation

    It is hard to believe that anybody could be serious about inflicting this curriculum on second graders and their parents. But in our current affliction of ed reform, preparing young children to be workers in the global economy, absurdity reigns.

    — Susan Ohanian

    July 10, 2013

    Index of Common Core [sic] Standards

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