Many parents across the nation are wary, worried, and bemused by the new Common Core standards. An important part of Common Core is the standardized testing. To prepare students for the tests, school administrators are enforcing strict instruction for much of the school day. One such school, the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. has cancelled the spring kindergarten play because the school administration feels that 5 and 6 year old kids preforming a play will adversely affect their “college preparedness”.
A letter sent to parents states:
“The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers.”
Really?? Reading and memorizing lines, learning to follow instructions, practicing and rehearsing, as well as preforming and speaking in front of strangers is going to delay 5 and 6 year old children’s reading, writing, and problem solving skills? Perhaps, the administrators are actually worried about how their kindergarteners will perform on the common core tests rather than how well they are preparing these kids for college.
Rob Saxton, deputy superintendent of public instruction in Oregon, and Jada Rupley, state department early learning system director, wrote an op-ed for The Oregonian lamenting the lack of skills Oregon kindergarten students had. They really want children test ready at 5 years old. However, research is teaching us that play and minimal instruction are actually the best ways for young children to learn.
MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues conducted a study with 4 year old children and a simple toy. One group of kids were shown how to play with the toy and another group of kids were introduced to the toy, but not shown how it worked. The group given the instruction played with the toy exactly as shown. The second group explored the toy and were able to make parts of it work that the first group didn’t even try. This study is significant. Given the opportunity to explore, children learn more and become better problem solvers. Yet Common Core is seeking to remove all forms of creativity from the classroom and have the children sit for hours of instruction.
Removing creativity from the classroom is discouraging reading, writing, and problem solving rather than encouraging it. By making test performance a main focus of education, the government leaders and school administrators, who are pushing Common Core, are dumbing down the children of our nation.