Friday, May 31, 2013

Common Core's Love Affair with Textbooks

Philosophically, I'm against textbooks.

Textbooks take primary documents out of context, which is where propaganda gets inserted. "Living books," historical fiction, biography, and primary sources are infinitely more effective (and enjoyable) teaching tools. The rampant use of textbooks in colleges is not proof of a superior education philosophy. Rather, this rampant use is proof of a prevailing factory philosophy in public schools all the way through college. 

In my opinion, students using textbooks are spoon feeding, not feasting on knowledge.

Biography for math and science would also put current theories into historical context and help students understand how these consensus subjects have evolved into our present systems of math/science. To me, this is the difference between memorizing facts and truly understanding a subject. 

True, any type of narrative is subject to bias, but bias is clearer in a historical fiction format, where critical thinking becomes the natural response to reading it. Contrast that with the blind obedience children are taught in response to textbook reading. 

If it's in the book, it's on the test, sometimes with exactly the same wording. 

While this may be optimal for teaching to a test, it is catastrophic to independent thought and real learning.

Our family homeschools with a curriculum that is very literature focused. I can tell you my six-year-old gets more out of the historical fiction than he does from the few textbook "spines" we also use. He learns still more from hands-on activity surrounding a subject. 

He groans when we open a textbook. 

Maybe we should model public schools with input from the children themselves. Common Core will only do this by using market research from the kids' computers to adapt the software. 

It won't actually engage in conversation between parents, children, and educators. While there's nothing inherently evil about market research to improve an educational technology, the evil is in the monopoly and the removal of parents from the process

Remember that market research on kids also brought us Frosted Flakes and sugar crystals on cereal marketed to kids. 

The corporate powers behind tablets in the classroom do not have all our kids' best interests at heart. The "informational texts" children read for Common Core will be riddled with corporate and political manipulations. I said "will be" but it's already here.

It's now even more important to avoid textbooks aligned with the new gospels of present power.

Education is not the same as learning. Nowhere is that clearer than in the current federal-corporate takeover of common standards, and through those standards, all "aligned" curricula.