by Andrew Foster
Today, we introduce a new columnist, Andrew Foster, who will write mostly about the Math part of the Common Core State Standards. Look for his columns on Wednesdays.
Through personal experience and the challenges of life in the classroom, I’ve come to the not-so-startling conclusion that education is inevitably changing. We know from science and psychology that change is not easy for us, and in education it may be even more difficult because we are so emotionally invested in our work. In my first blog post here (Hello, Blogosphere!) I’d like to share some thoughts about my current philosophical approach to the CCSS. Maybe these musings will start a conversation that can be developed in future posts. And maybe my ideas and outlook will change as we continue this journey of Common Core implementation.
In education generally, and specifically when big change comes our way (think CCSS education reform here), it can be so easy to throw our hands in the air, vent and fume about the “bigwigs,” and console ourselves with prescriptions for foolproof improvement, “If I were in charge.”
But those reactions victimize us. Those reactions make us small, incapable, and ineffective in our own eyes. I prefer to see educators in a different role, as technicians in a public laboratory with an all-important goal product: The Future.
All of the money, politics, science, and emotion that get wrapped up in education is for good reason. Our product and the effect of our product will be long-lasting and decisive. An educated citizenry — the foundation of a prosperous and democratic society — is universally desirable, so I prefer to assign good faith motives to most (if not all) those involved in education decision-making.
The role of the educator, then, is to engage completely with the goals, processes, and reforms that are shaping public education so our voice will be heard as an expert, someone knowledgeable in both theory and practice, and willing to conduct the necessary labor and testing to prove that current trends are effective or not, reasonable or draconian, progressive or regressive. When it comes to education policy and reform, we must be ready to make our voice heard, but not in the “Hear me roar!” disgruntled and disgusted way (save that for the collective bargaining negotiations!). Rather, our voice must be heard as a voice of experience and reason, bringing solutions to the table to advance ideas that are good for students and society as a whole.
Are the Common Core Standards perfect?
Are they a step in the right direction?
Are the promoters of this reform completely pure and unselfish in motive?
Do they have a vested interest, with the rest of us, in school improvement?
With all this in mind, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from a book called Attitudes by Charles Swindoll.
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company … a home … a relationship.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our pasts, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude.
I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter: @abfosEd