Trying to Separate Skills From Knowledge

by Shane Vander Hart

I’m reading Joy Pullmann’s new book Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy. I interviewed Joy for Caffeinated Thoughts Radio this week (airs tomorrow), and I told her she does an incredible job describing the history of how Common Core came to be. I’ve written an essay on that very topic for Common Ground on Common Core, and I learned things I didn’t know. She also discusses what she saw in several classrooms she was able to visit and how the Common Core impacted what was taught. That is something very few of us who have opposed Common Core have had the ability to do.

In chapter 2 that discusses “The Common Core Classroom,” Joy writes about how the Common Core tries to divorce content from skills.

She writes:

Common Core doesn’t merely remain open-ended on content. It actually undermines the teaching of specific core knowledge by promoting classroom methods that emphasize academic skills or practices instead, supposedly to help eliminate the environmental advantage that better-off children bring with them. That’s why “close reading” calls for answers drawn strictly from the text at hand, not from the wider store of knowledge that children may have amassed. It’s an attempt to level the playing field.

Trying to separate skills from knowledge in this way is a fool’s errand, according to Robert Pondiscio, a former teacher turned pundit. To illustrate the point: you can’t learn how to build a house without knowing about materials or the use of tools; and conversely, using the tools and materials deepen your knowledge of them. Reading about baseball or the phases of the moon or the Oregon Trail increases your knowledge of those subjects, and the acquired knowledge then improves your ability to read about related topics, in a kind of feedback. When you read the daily news, you will comprehend it more thoroughly if you start from a solid base of civic and cultural literacy – something that too many citizens do not have.

A survey in 2011 found that only half of Americans could name the three branches of government, and just one in five could identify the origin of the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state from among for options. The remedy for this problem does not lie in the content-light standards of Common Core, with all its emphasis on “informational text” but no coherent principles for selecting and organizing it. If children read only a haphazard list of materials their teachers happen to like, compiled with no thought to building a focused and delineated core of cultural literacy, their knowledge level will be laughable and their reading fluency will be underdeveloped, too.

Spot on. I highly commend her book and am looking forward to finishing it.

This has been reposted from Truth in American Education with permission from the author.


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Screen Time in Schools

On April 20, 2017, Screen Time in Schools–Why Parents Should Care was held in Denver, CO. Here is a little information provided with the youtube video that is featured below.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), today’s children are spending an average of SEVEN hours per day on electronic devices! Screen use and the electromagnetic radiation emitted from these devices have been associated with health risks such as myopia, retinal damage, sleeplessness, addiction and behavioral issues. Screen use at school also brings with it information sharing and privacy issues.

Cheri Kiesecker was in the line up of excellent Screen Time presenters.

Cheri Kiesecker is a Colorado parent and active advocate for children’s privacy. She is a frequent blogger and member of many organizations, including Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Cheri and Leonie Haimson wrote this Washington Post article explaining the many ways student data is being collected and shared.

Here is a video featuring the highlights of her presentation.

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Ed Reform 2.0 and Personalized Learning may Impact the Teaching Profession

Personalized Learning is getting a lot of attention these days.  It is not all positive attention as parents and teachers push back against it.  It is not the purpose of this article to identify the entities promoting Personalized Learning or … Continue reading

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Student Data Exposed and For Sale

Two articles about student data recently came to my attention.  I thought I would share them here for those who are interested. Schoolzilla ‘File Configuration Error’ Exposes Data for More than 1.3M Students, Staff tells about a researcher discovering that … Continue reading

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Googlification of the Classroom

How Google Took Over the Classroom is an article worth reading. Does your child have a Google account through school? If so, do you have any concerns about it? Here is one quote from the article: Google is helping to … Continue reading

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The New Local Control: Excluding Parents from Education | Part 4

This is the fourth part of a four part video series featuring Kirsten Lombard and Lynn Taylor with Mary Black moderating. The following information about this video is provided on YouTube: The New Local Control: Excluding Parents from Education. Local … Continue reading

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School Choice: The Hidden Dangers for All | Part 3

This is the third part of a four part video series featuring Kirsten Lombard and Lynn Taylor with Mary Black moderating. The following information about this video is provided on YouTube: School Choice: The Hidden Dangers for All. School choice … Continue reading

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