Getting to the Core

source: theguardian.com

source: theguardian.com

The Cardinal Newman Society has a really helpful pamphlet on their concerns about the Common Core:

http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/Portals/0/Mail/Renewal%20Report/pdf%20for%20web%20Final.pdf

I like particularly point #2: “The Common Core is not intended for Catholic Education.”

This is not only true, but also something to think about. The Common Core was not designed for Catholic schools – as is evident from their statement of purpose: “The standards… are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs” (as quoted by CNS in the above link).

Well, yay. I certainly hope so.

Catholic Education, if it is to be true to itself, goes far beyond this.

But, as I think the Cardinal Newman Society would agree, Catholic schools do accomplish these rather modest and utilitarian goals on the side of their much greater mission toward building the Kingdom of God.

Here’s the catch though: we don’t really have “standards” of comparable rigor to offer as an alternative to the secular ones.

Common Core has it’s problems, but Catholic schools have long been adopting state standards because we do not have any of our own.

The Archdiocese of Denver now has their own educational standards, couched in terms of Catholic-ness… which you can see here… but if you compare them to the Common Core…

Common Core Reading standards for 9-10th grades (since that is what I am familiar with):

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
(Source: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/#CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1)
Archdiocese of Denver Reading standards for 9-10th grades:
1. Cite evidence in the text that most strongly supports a specific analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
2. Analyze in detail the development and refinement of a theme or central idea in a text, including how it emerges and it shaped and refined by specific details.
4. Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
(Source: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/LA-Curriculum_OBJECTIVES-2013.pdf)
Um, did you notice some similarities?
They’re almost word-for-word the same. (Why don’t they cite one another?)
Here’s the thing. The Common Core definitely “violates the principle of subsidiarity,” as the CNS claims, but what are we really doing instead? If we’re just borrowing the language from secular standards (whether Common Core standards or other, older state standards), why are we getting all hot under the collar when Common Core is sweeping the nation? What are we really offering instead?
We are checking our Catholic “curriculum” against what secular education does. There may be good reasons for this. (Like, maybe some of the standards are good standards.) But why are we complaining so much when we have not bothered to really create standards of our own that reflect our own goals and visions of education?
The Common Core, at least, is inspiring a conversation about standards – what they are, what they really mean, how do they affect instruction, etc.
Catholic schools cannot simply continue to rely on “tried and true methods” or vague generalities about “forming the whole person” without examining what we’re really doing and why.
Further reading:
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1 Comment

Filed under Catholicism, Education, Teaching

One response to “Getting to the Core

  1. Pingback: On Teaching Writing in High School – Or, Why Anthony Esolen is Wrong | Mysteries and Manners

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