According to the Common Core website: “These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.”
While this is admirable and definitely testable, the common core obsession has created a black hole in our education system. In that educational black hole, you’ll find the aspects of character education that support the academic curriculum. They are the new 3-Rs of personality development - responsibility, respect, and resourcefulness.
How do these personality traits support the common core? Consider the average child in an average math classroom learning about the addition of fractions in a small group. The teacher has assigned them the task of adding the fractions without offering any guidance on the process. (Yes, this self-discovery method of education is accepted procedure today.) The three students grapple with the problem. With responsibility, each student takes part in the activity. No one sits back and lets the others work. With respect, each student listens while another hypothesizes ways to solve the problem. And with resourcefulness, the group works together to develop creative means to a solution. Eventually, they arrive at an answer. Long-lasting learning has occurred because the students were in charge of their own education.
Now consider the alternative. That same group receives the same problem and the same group of instructions. Without the knowledge of responsibility, two daydream about playing basketball after school and let the stronger student solve the problem. Without respect, two students talk about the new movie while the third works through the problem. And without resourcefulness, that third student who has been struggling without help from the group does not get the correct answer because he or she was not able to develop a creative approach. No learning has occurred because the students couldn’t work together and think creatively.
So how can you introduce the new 3-Rs into a curriculum that is front-end loaded with academic requirements and testing sessions? By introducing it into their literacy. Choose texts for their ability to combine academic and character education. Look for ways to introduce positive personality traits into a conversation about inanimate objects. (Try it – we guarantee it will stimulate both the academic conversation and your students’ personalities!) And develop assignments that encourage the new 3-Rs of responsibility, respect, and resourcefulness.
At Entelechy Education, LLC, we would like to see the Common Core peeled back to its actual core – social and moral education that supports the academic and practical education procedures. To that end, we offer a series of books that present both STEM concepts and character education themes. We call this STEM-C® Literacy and feel that our books support the whole child’s education and his or her path to adult success. See them HERE and judge for yourself how valuable they will be in your classroom or home library.
Author: Renee Heiss