A Mother/Grandmother’s view of Common Core
by Margaret Snow
For several months I have been researching and attending presentations to inform myself about the Common Core standards that are being implemented in our public schools. I have grandchildren in two states both of which have chosen to implement Common Core standards.
My first impression of the Common Core Standards that are being introduced in our state, caused me to wonder, how is greatness achieved by putting all children into a one size fits all information overload and expecting them to transfer all of that information in the form of passing a test equally? I didn’t stop with that first impression though, and continued on to research, listen, and form other conclusions.
After accessing all of the information I have read & heard at this point, I came to conclude that if the program would have been in effect when I was growing up, my life would have been empty and furthermore, if my own children had gone through this type of education, they would not be who they are today. And most of all, I would dare say that my grandchildren are at risk to aspire and become who they should be as productive members of society, but instead, sadly be forced to become programmed robots without the joy of creativity in their lives. Now, I will try to explain my reasoning for this statement.
I have worked over forty years as self employed in a field where daily I have the ability to use my God given talent to create and think outside the box. I am thankful that I have been able to greet the mornings ready to do what I love while excelling and making a good living doing it. I have made good money and yes, at times have lost good money, but have always been able to reach for another idea and thrive again. I have been made it through many of life’s rough challenges by letting my thoughts be driven by creativity and my hands useful with a project. There is no idle time, no boring days, & no time wasted when your mind is constantly seeing another vision and is able to put that vision into place.
I am a designer and if Common Core had been in place when I was a child I would have never thrived. There is no way a child like me would have known the joy of letting their creative juices flow. Days when other little girls were playing dolls, I was imagining a beautiful piece of fabric made into something special and couldn’t stop until I got my hands on it and made it go together into the image I imagined. It was natural and easy to see how the convex curve and the concave curve would fit, to see the angle needed to make something lie flat, or decide what the measurement needed to be for an idea it to work. It wasn’t just the finished product that I could see in my mind, but also what it would take to get it to that point.
I have literally had people come to me with the most unusual requests and ask if I could design something over the years and each challenge has given me a reason to be productive and thrive from day to day. In today’s technical world I am disciplined enough to do what is required to run a business but have a outlet from what would be torture for me. That would be sitting in front of a computer and be programmed into hours of reputation and button pushing. The hours that I spend in my office doing the things that I have to do for my business are my least favorite thing to do and the only thing that keeps me focused on doing them is the fact that the chores will be over and I have an idea on the horizon to pursue. Of course, I am not minimizing the importance of those who love the challenge of this technical world that we live in and have the ability to thrive in it. They are gifted just as those who think like I do and we all play a part in balancing our surroundings without losing sight of what we were created to do. After all, we are not electronically programmed by nature but uniquely created upon our arrival on this earth.
Let me explain something else that I remember as a child and now can see as directing my path as an adult. I am explaining my opinion not because I am a trained professional accessing the mind, but simply from what I see inside my own mind. I can remember liking school and school being rather easy for me. There were some subjects that were easier than others. Reading and History in particular were my favorites because everything I read whether it was literature or history, I would become a character in that place and time with the mental vision in my mind. It all comes to life when you see the landscape, the way characters are dressed, the time and place that is in the vision that you are seeing in your mind. A date or quote on a page is memorable because there is a picture in your mind of that place, time , and even the words on the page it was written on. Things like spelling ,English, math, & even formulas in science were easy because I memorize based on what I saw on the paper and how I related it to what it applied to. I would dare say that many good students over the years have seen things in this same manner. In addition, those things that were planted in my mind at that early age have never left me. I have used them daily in communicating, calculating, and reasoning because they were engrained in a human mind not saved in an infallible data base that I would have to access in order to function. There are many minds much more intelligent than mine, but having learned skills at a time when skill learning was required and learning to retain information when retention was required, has certainly not been a deterrent in functioning as a productive adult, nor do I see it as an unnecessary or outdated skill for future generations.
Now, I would like to shift my thoughts to the focus on two children that are now adults with their own families. Yes, they are my children and like many mothers, I am proud of them but I use them as examples of what I am passionately trying to express because they are where I draw my first hand knowledge for my opinions. First, let me say that in spite of any failures that I may have had as a parent, I thank the good Lord for having his hand on my children. He knew my heart and he answered my prayers with boldness where they are concerned. I had two children who are now adults, my oldest is a son and my youngest, a daughter. They were again, uniquely created and totally different in many ways. As children, they both were achievers but their achievements and interests were very different. They did share something in common, the desire to become the best they could be. I remember telling them many times, “I do not expect more than you are capable of, but I do expect all you are capable of.” I share this not because I think my children were smarter than other children or because I just want a forum to brag, but because I see them as perfect examples of very different individuals that have become equally successful in their own right.
My son is a businessman who today has a net worth much more than I would have ever dreamed for him. He owns a successful company which is actually his second along with other successful ventures and many assets. He is known for his ability to quote numbers, bids, regulations, and just about everything he needs to know off the top of his head. People who do business with him are amazed at his ability to retain information in a manner that is so easily obtained. He started his very own first business when he was 13 years old. I could go into a whole list of his successful endeavors over the years but in short, he is just basically a gifted businessman with an amazing work ethic doing what he loves, therefore; he is extremely successful. He was a good student but not a student who really enjoyed school. He was too busy thinking outside the box, figuring things out on his own, and putting the results into a business plan. Although his ACT test score would have easily gotten him into college, in his mind he viewed school more as necessary while he was truly preparing for a successful life. After graduating from high school he went directly to work taking a few courses but not finishing with a college degree which I think would be a huge surprise to people who know him today. He is very knowledgeable, articulate, and well respected in a very competitive and detail oriented business and an absolute positive contribution to the community in which he lives.
My daughter on the other hand loved school and was a dedicated student always focused on the fact that she wanted to go to college and doing her best to achieve that long term goal. A goal she achieved through hard work acquiring scholarships, working part time all the while maintaining a 4.0 grade average. She was competitive and goal oriented from a very early age and always did well in school because school was enjoyable to her. Even with the ability to do well in all of her subjects, her absolute strength was centered in her creativeness through writing. Fortunately, she had teachers that saw a reason for creative children to be allowed to imagine and create not just programmed into repetition, giving her the opportunity to also think out of the box writing stories, poems, plays, and numerous projects. There hardly seemed to be a day that she wasn’t involved in a project of some kind with our kitchen table covered with her papers & art supplies. None of that creative time spent kept her from adapting and advancing in today’s technical world, it has only added to her ability to use both technology and creativity to excel in her current field. Today, with a masters degree she owns a very successful advertising and marketing agency diversified in everything from coop advertising to media production and is respected for both her business accomplishments and her contribution to the community where she lives.
Of course, some will say I am just a mother boasting about her children. I would be lying to say I am not proud of them, but I tell their stories because they absolutely make my point. They are both equally important as productive members of society and just like their mother, both can lay claim to accomplishments that could never have been achieved if they had been predestined from an early age to think within only the confines of information provided to them and testing based on that information.
I heard a motivational speaker say something several years ago that has always stuck with me. His premise was that a successful person is most always defined by how much money they make, but a truly successful person is one who can figure out how to get up every day able to do what they truly enjoy, while still being able to make a living that satisfies their needs and makes them content.
In conclusion, I think a warning should be sounded against an educational system that feels that children should be programmed with instructional information and predestined for a chosen job upon completion of their education. This is absolutely what Common Core Standards are designed to do. We cannot be productive by absorbing technology alone no more than creativity will thrive without using technology in today’s world, but to do away with the ability of a parent to instill the desire to aspire in their children and to destroy the ability for a child to dream and achieve their own accomplishments is an absolute trend toward societal destruction. When Government becomes so powerful that it determines the destinies of our children it has certainly infringed on our God given rights and when we as parents & grandparents sit back and let it happen, we have stolen the God given talents from our children. Shame on Government & shame on us, we will all reap the repercussions.
Special thanks to Margaret Snow for putting her thoughts on paper and sharing them with her representatives and friends in the Bartlesville area. It is my hope that you will follow her example and put your own thoughts on paper and share them with your representatives in Oklahoma and other states being encouraged to embrace this creativity killing beast in our midst. Thanks for letting me share with my Finding Gems & Sharing Them audience. / Sandra Crosnoe
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