A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”
And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.” Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.
So much has been said about the Common Core, with its detractors seeming to outnumber its proponents. The position taken in this blog has primarily been its developmental inappropriateness, especially for the youngest students, from K-3. Moving into Grade 4, a shift is apparent, perhaps one that could accommodate a more academic focus. Having said that however, it remains true that until the “age of reason” at 12-14, the primary focus should remain artful and heart-based. All academics until then need to be cloaked in story, art, and movement.
Here is an image from Catie Johnson’s wonderful page, Chalkboard Drawings in the Waldorf Classroom. Note how the babies are cared for. Remember, human childhood is the longest of that of all species!
Please read this Forbes article by Alice Walton, The Science of the Common Core: Experts Weigh In On Its Developmental Appropriateness, for an in-depth look at the Common Core’s short and long range effects. Here is an excerpt, one with a philosophy that closely parallel’s that of Waldorf Education:
“David Elkind, long-time child development expert at Tufts University and author of The Hurried Child, says that a related problem with the Common Core standards is that “children are not standardized.” Between ages 4 to 7, he says, kids are undergoing especially rapid changes in cognitive ability, but this neurological and psychological development occurs at all different rates. “Some children attain these abilities—which enable them to learn verbal rules, the essence of formal instruction—at different ages. With the exception of those with special needs, all children attain them eventually. That is why many Scandinavian countries do not introduce formal instruction, the three R’s until the age of seven. In these countries children encounter few learning difficulties. Basically, you cannot standardize growth, particularly in young children and young adolescents. When growth is most rapid, standardization is the most destructive of motivation to learn. To use a biological analogy, you don’t prune during the growing season.”
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow for more Grade 4 math CCSS and their ambient counterparts.