Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thank God the Common Core Has Made It Safe For Children to Play Again

Two recent examples of How children’s ‘play’ is being sneakily redefined would be this post on the pre-K Common Core in NYC and Bill Turque's piece on the use of Tools of the Mind in DCPS.

Despite the Common Core's love of text-based arguments, you never have and never will see text-based evidence backing up the assertion that the Common Core (in ELA, at least) emphasizes or even encourages collaborative play, a full range of critical thinking, problem solving, etc., particularly in comparison to other high quality standards used in the US and around the world. That evidence simply does not exist in the text of the standards themselves.

Turque's piece is a buzzword salad even by education standards. It is a bunch of stuff that sounds good in itself, but doesn't necessarily to hang together. I suppose that's just saying it all depends on implementation, which is pretty much the only thing that matters in education reform anyhow. But when I quickly get to examples like this:

An example of one activity in which children practice inhibitory control, which is one aspect of self-regulation, is the Graphics Practice. Children practice drawing different kinds of marks to music and must stop and start on cue.

It is all too easy to picture what the bad implementations of integrating "play" are going to look like.

Later... I guess the weird thing about Turque's piece is the extent to which it emphasizes things like the Common Core, standard curriculum, phonics, the "hard, non-sexy work" (it is, in fact, the fun and interesting part of the job) that have relatively little to do with what I'd regard as "the classroom as Vygotsky saw it." I don't have a critique of Tools of the Mind per se, just the larger public relations campaign around "play."

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