new ela & math standards released

i've progressed in my thinking about standards. i understand them differently from when i was early in my path of teaching and learning, when i viewed them as oppressive and as symbolic vehicular boots that stifled educators creative inclinations.  (i now realize that the obsession to test children - and by proxy their teachers - to within an inch of their life is the real villain, perpetrated by willing accomplices in grey and navy suits and answering to the various titles to which they have been elected or appointed...)

so when the new standards for english language arts (ela) and mathematics were announced this week, i brought a renewed eye to reading them, thanks to my time spent observing and spending time in classrooms and ongoing conversations with current teachers whose efforts to provide myriad educational opportunities for the eager bodies that file into their classrooms every day are not necessarily diminished, and are sometimes even bolstered, by a fuller understanding of the national standards.  so as i read these standards anew, i began to imagine what "meeting" them might mean from a pedagogical standpoint. for me, the ela standards - divided into 'reading,' 'writing,' and 'speaking & listening' (regardless of ample, ample, oodles of research that understands them to work in concert) - evoked images of what it would look like for a kid to have achieved each bullet-pointed goal.  for example, in reading:
  • Support or challenge assertions about the text by citing evidence in the text explicitly and accurately.
and the questions began: what types of texts? citing in what format? who determines what is explicit and accurate? (that last question pertains to some of obtuse 'texts' i've encountered lately, which are neither explicit nor accurate in their 'reading' of others' texts...)
but these questions are the natural byproduct of a mind set to 'hyper' on the inquiry cycle, which, i agree, can become paralyzing when someone 'just wants to go and teach.' but without these questions, and the next few that i'll raise below, how do we ease ourselves out of the jaws of complacency.  questions need not be paralyzing. in fact, i have found them liberating. questioning what we mean by text can suggest a new range of compositions - film shorts, photo essays, anime, family photo albums - to consider inside the classroom. these new texts, sometimes foreign to the routines of classroom and school life, might open up the boundaries that too often (aim to, but can never really) separate children's in-school and out-of-school lives.  questions about text, indeed a critical stance on texts, can suggest new teaching and learning relationships as the children who suggest new texts can be engaged as the experts on their texts.  i could learn some things about manga, but to hear a true expert eagerly describe narrative nuances that would have certainly escaped me for the first 50 or 60 readings is where educative possibility really lies. 
hence, the new questions - question, really.  just one, as i worked my way down the standards for reading, writing, and speaking & listening.  and then made my way through the mathematical standards.  my hypercurious mind wants to know where the 'we'/'with' standards are.  that is, while all of the existing 'todos' implicate what a student must be able to do, and consequently what the teacher must make sure the student can do, there aren't any standards that talk about what kind of community teachers and students might co-create in which to engage in education together.  so i want to know: "Where are the standards of 'with'?"

yes, this is a false question in way, b/c i would truly cringe if there were classroom community standards.  (shudder, literally, to think about this...)  but when the good people at the "National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with Achieve, ACT and the College Board" came together establish standards that are "research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills," i just want to know what kinds of conversations went on about what spaces would be generative of the kinds of teaching and learning that might lead to national proficiency across the "core standards" laid out this week?  and if there was any talk, even whispers, about resources, class size, unholy testing schedules, and time to build community, might i ask - nay, plead - for the revered insiders to leak these conversations to the press? or someone who might listen, especially when the left hand is ready to act based on the findings of the right hand...

feedback on the standards is welcome until october 21st. after reading the standards, click on the link that says "Submit Feedback >>" along the left-hand menu.


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