A foundational article that reads like it could be written today

Cothran, T.
Wiggins, G. (1989) The futility of trying to teach everything of importance. Educational leadership. 47(3), p. 44-59. Retrieved from http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Wiggins.pdf

Summary: Sadly, this 1989 article reads like it could be written today. Whether in 1989 it was a reflection of changing thought on our educational system or a challenge to the status quo, I’m not sure. Wiggins argues eloquently for an inquiry driven process to learning, noting that students can’t possible learn everything there is they need to know by 12th grade. Rather, it should be our job to teach them to question, to check their own assumptions, and the skills to find the answers they need to solve a problem or provide a deeper understanding to something of interest/need.

Evaluation: I think this is an insightful article. I find it a bit distressing that we haven’t moved forward in this direction more in the 30 years since it was written. This was before we saw the explosion of access to information brought about by the internet and our personal handheld devices! In Wiggins arguments, there a couple of key take-aways for me. He talks about standards and how standards should reflect a process rather than content. This makes me think about how the AALS standards are written. I’ve often reflected in my lesson designs that if you are building a strong unit, learners will access those standards throughout their learning process depending on where they are in their learning journey. That’s not to say that some won’t need to be pushed to go deeper, but it’s an argument for meeting learners where they are and helping them become stronger.

He is clearly advocating for teachers as facilitators of learning. He even calls for teachers to be an “intellectual librarian.” This makes me consider how we, as librarians, model this kind of process in our spaces. What can we do (even with our fixed schedules etc.) to engage learners when they encounter our spaces (physical or virtual).

I particularly appreciated his parallel of learning as related to sports or the performing arts. As someone with a theater background, I can honestly say that my most connected learning has come about when developing theater pieces. Depending on a show, history comes alive and I can see it and it’s importance — it’s not just a bunch of names and dates on a page. Scientific arguments and mysteries may be revealed. I question the status quo and want to know more. It’s also a collaborative learning process. If you are an actor, you are deeply immersed in the why and how of your character. A designer is immersed in creating a visual or aural world. All of these pieces come together (aka all of these people collaborate) to create something that is larger than any one of them could on their own. It reminds me of Dr. L’s advocacy for a meaningful culminating activity.

Educators, Parents Debate the Common Core

Sue, Jason


APA Citation

CBS Sunday Morning. (2014, September 14). Educators, parents debate the Common Core. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xpptv5bSIi0


Despite being a federal initiative, Common Core was started as nationwide collaboration from the state level to develop nationwide standards. 45 states and D.C. initially adopted Common Core and were offered grant money in return for participation. One of the benefits of Common Core was that it raised the standards of states like Tennessee and allowed more accurate comparisons of the academic achievements rates of various states. Despite these benefits, implementation of the Common Core has not been without pushback.

Many conservatives felt that the federal government should not be dictating curriculum even if it was the states who had the power to accept or reject Common Core. Opposition to Common Core was also strong in Progressives states. One of the criticisms of progressives was that the standards that Common Core set were unrealistic; and to support their argument, they singled out have specific test questions as being too difficult for certain grade levels. Education can be condensed into a series of increased standards. While Common Core may be flawed, it was a step in the right direction.


This is an outstanding synopsis of the controversy surrounding Common Core.


Where Standards Come From

Bradley, Rebecca


McClure, p. (2005). Where standards come from. Theory into Practice, 4(1),4-10. doi:  10.1207/s15430421tip4401_2

In this article Phyllis McClure gives a brief and very clear historical overview of how the standards movement originally arose. In the simplest terms, in the past folks thought that children from privileged backgrounds would rise to the top to occupy positions of power and leadership while those less fortunate would get an adequate education for their lower stations in life. As time went by this policy was deemed unjust, which led to the idea of common curriculum standards for all students. 
The article goes on to mention key court decisions that pushed standards forward as well as the financing structure of schools that needed to be overhauled. It also touches on the fact that expecting all students to meet the same high standards has caused a lingering “achievement gap.” The article ends with information about the emergence of Title 1 and the No Child Left Behind Act and states that the standards movement shows no sign of being a “fad” or going away anytime soon. 
I recommend this article to anyone who has little or no idea of how the standards movement came about in our country. In particular, this article would be helpful to people who are just starting out in the field of education or who might have been in another profession while all of these significant shifts were occurring. In my case, I was living outside the US from 1991 to 2009, so I found the overview McClure provides in this article to be very helpful.