kitchen table math, the sequel: A historian reads NY's Common Core Social Studies "Framework"

Monday, November 24, 2014

A historian reads NY's Common Core Social Studies "Framework"

Peter Meyer just sent New York's Common Core Social Studies Framework. Ed (who is an actual historian) is reading, and I am typing:


"trying to do everything in two years with relatively young students"

"Paleolithic to modern day in 2 years"

"breathtakingly superficial"

"trying to teach the analytical abilities--compare & contrast, critical thinking, making arguments--and also covering a massive insane amount of information"

"it's got knowledge, but way too much of it and way too superficial" -- but also it has these "very advanced analytical skills"

"a whole grid of [analytical] things you're supposed to do"

"then there are themes"

"social studies practices"

"gathering, interpreting, and using evidence"

"under that there are 7 things"

"deconstruct and construct plausible and persuasive arguments using evidence"

"create meaningful and persuasive understandings of the past by fusing disparate and relevant evidence from primary and secondary sources and drawing connections to the present" - "that's one thing and that's just one of 7 things - practices! - under the first category of practices"

"categories of practices -- there are six different categories, each of which has between 6 and 8 subcategories, so we've got about 50 categories altogether"

"then we have reading standards for literacy in history/social studies"

"4 different categories under that"

"then there are text types and purposes"

"4 categories under that"

"range of writing, whatever that is"

"then there's speaking and listening standards, a zillion of those"

"only after those things are mentioned do we get to global history and geography"

"I love this"

"we've already gone through 10 pages of practices, reading standards, writing standards, speaking and presentation standards, then we get to a subheading called Global history and geography"

"this two-year sequence is arranged chronologically, beginning with the Paleolithic and continuing to the present"

"and then, the first thing we have after that, is 10 themes"

"Individual Development and Cultural Identity"

"Development, Movement, and Interaction of Cultures"

"the next one I love a lot: Time, Continuity, and Change --- how about that for a small one?"

"Oh my God, this is just .... "

"and so the first unit is called The First Civilizations, it goes from around 10,000 BCE to 630 CE, so that's 11 centuries in the first unit"

"and then of course there's a zillion subthemes under that"

"then the next one is just 1300 years"

"and it's not just Europe, it's the world, it's China, it's Africa..."

"I love the next one, it's called 'An Age of Expanding Connections' and that's also a thousand years"

"we're talking 9th graders, this is still 9th grade"

"so we're now on page 19 and we've gotten to the end of 9th grade"

"teachers should note that some KEY IDEAS -- that's in caps -- may require extra time and attention. For example, 10.1 The World in 750 is a brief introduction and will not require as much time as other key ideas. So it gives the exception rather than the example of a key idea that will require extra time."

"While the course emphasizes the importance of historical and spatial thinking, all of the social studies practices and standards are included in the study of global history and geography -- This is the kitchen sink. They're trying to do all of the politically correct stuff, which is thinking, and then they have knowledge."

"and so the 10th grade course is plausible - it's 1750 to the present - that's completely plausible"

"in 9th grade you're going from 10,000 BC to 1750 AD"

"students will examine efforts to unify, stabilize, and centralize Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate!"

"oh, and then students will compare and contrast the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan with France under the rule of the Bourbon Dynasty, looking at the rule of Edo and Paris/Versailles"

"then you're looking at attempts to control the daimyo and nobles ------- and the development of bureaucracies!"

"this is just one of three things you're doing under Theme 10.1, which is the theme you're not supposed to spend very much time of because it's just a snapshot of the world in 1750"

"and then the next unit goes from 1750 to 1914"

"that is a long mother of a unit"

"under that you do Enlightenment, Revolution, Nationalism"

"then the causes and effects of the Industrial Revolution"

"then Imperialism"

"basically they're trying to satisfy all these different constituencies, you've got the Hirsch knowledge constituency, you've got the critical thinking constituency, you've got the historical practices constituency ... they've just thrown it all in... plus you've got all the literacy stuff, too"

"they cover the entire Enlightenment by comparing one text by Hobbes to one text by Locke"

"nothing about the Scottish Enlightenment"

"nothing about the German Englightenment"

"nothing about the French Enlightenment"

"just these two British guys"


Robin said...

The original C3 Social Studies Framework which was then formally sponsored by CCSSO came out Thanksgiving Week 2 years ago. I caught it and was horrified. was the response.

Now it reminds me as well of the claims that Big History sponsored by Gates will be the basis for all K-12 curriculum within 10 years.

We have got to understand this new insistence on changing what people can easily know so that we can manipulate what they will believe.

I wish I was inferring that but I am not.

Anonymous said...

With all of these kinds of "frameworks" they should also be required to present a sample of a complete and specific schedule of a course that would meet this target . Show how it can be done, day by day for 180 days. What would you assign, what would you do in class, what would you test on...I want to see the entire plan: lectures, discussion topics, reading assignments, projects ( you know there will be projects), research papers...I'm not saying that all teachers would then have to follow it, but prove that such a thing could exist. And if you can't produce this, then what is the point of this nonsense?


froggiemama said...

""Paleolithic to modern day in 2 years"

AP World History does it in one year, so CC must be slowing down the pace :-)

Jean said...

I can't understand how anyone can get much out of AP world history. It must be like an infodump.

I want my kid to learn world history. I also want her to actually absorb some of it. We're planning for 4 years of history in high school.

Anonymous said...

This is why there should be systematic history study for all 13 years of schooling. It is amazing what you can do with a kid who has already "done" world history twice by the time they got to high school.

On another note, I get awfully sick of the educrats pushing for kids to become "little historians" or "little scientists" or "little mathematicians" or "little literary critics." The focus in K-8 should be on knowledge and skills necessary to be a literate adult--mathematically literate, scientifically literate, historically literate, etc--with kids not moving to the next level until they've mastered the one they're in. High school--academically intense high school--should be optional.

Robin said...

Anon-all those role playing type statements are based on a non-fact based view of school. It's what performance standards are all about. The Common Core and what states are replacing it with to continue to comply with their NCLB waivers are all performance standards.

The focus is on behavior--what are students doing? A Danish social scientist laid out this social science vision of competency, then proficiency, then acting as an expert. Acting as an expert is using the supplied concepts in that very framework you mentioned without having the underlying body of knowledge. Trained to act anyway. explains how concepts work in this reimagined view.

Anonymous said...

But what does a history teacher do when confronted with a list like this? It seems impossible to design a course from the bottom up so that it hits this target.

Do you take what you already were planning on doing and figure out how to describe it so that you seem to be hitting the bullet points? So that a given 45 minute lesson or at least a given two-week unit can let you check off on multiple elements from the framework? I'm guessing that's what you have to do. But in that case, the framework doesn't actually influence your teaching, but it does influence how you describe your teaching.


Robin said...

Phil-I am not sure where you are, but right now I am a teacher's best friend just by describing that teachers are no longer allowed to lecture. That it is the previous multiple time STAR teachers being threatened with their jobs for making content the focus.

That APUSH link was part of a trilogy of explaining the hijack of history in particular. You do not teach the framework. You train the students to see the world through the framework.

Guiding perception.

Glen said...

The common core "experts" are telling teachers to load 10 pounds of curricular poo into a 5-pound bag. What do they imagine the result will be?

Schools don't need experts to come up with a laundry list of all topics and skills that have any value. They need experts to do the work of finding the most valuable subsets of that list that will fit within the available time.

Making a list with no length constraint is easy. Just answer, Is it valuable, yes or no? Finding the most valuable list with a constrained length is far harder, because it requires determining two things about each item: value and cost. How much benefit does a student get from learning this, and how long will it take to learn it. You then try to get as much value as you can from your limited time budget.

This is similar to the "knapsack problem" in beginning computer science classes, where you have more items than you can carry, each of which is valuable to some extent, and you have to figure out how to pack the most value you can into your limited knapsack. It's even harder than the basic knapsack problem, though, because educational items aren't independently valuable. They have prerequisites and synergies, which significantly complicate the problem.

Well, that's why you turn to experts, right? If a student's answer was, "just take all of it," he would get an F in his computer science class. An answer that ignored the constraints of the problem would be useless. A good grade would require a good (not necessarily best) solution that fit within the constraints. Most items of value are left behind in a valid answer.

Phil is right. These guys haven't done their jobs at all until they demonstrate that their standards can fit in the school calendar "knapsack." Granted, they are standards, not a curriculum, but since standards can't be met without curricula, and standards that can't be met are irrelevant, the constraints on curricula also constrain the standards. To the extent standards violate those constraints, they are irrelevant.