Grade 4: Is Common Core & Testing A Failed Experiment? (#243)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 243

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.

In Grade 3, the garden of childhood was left behind, so that in Grade 4 the journey outward could begin in earnest.  I’m reminded of the famous Cloth/Wire Mother experiment, in which baby monkeys were kept in close proximity to life-size cloth covered or bare wire mother figures.  Even when the bare wire mothers provided food, the baby monkeys visited them only to feed, spending most of their time cuddling with the cloth covered figures.

As I write this, I am struck with the short-sightedness of this scientific method.  In fact these experiments were instrumental in provoking the heightened awareness of animal abuse in science laboratories.  These experiments were questioned along the lines of, why subject these babies to this stress just to gain abstract data?  Relevance and importance of data fades in light of the potential harm done.  

Anyway, obviously the cloth mother monkeys were the preferred surrogates because they were the more nurturing of the two.  The monkeys tended to adapt to strange or new surroundings by venturing out to explore and repeatedly running back for comfort and assurance.  This should be the model of choice for child development.

Slow and steady wins the race.  Not sink or swim.  We need to give all children all the time they need to leave the nest.  It’s short-sighted and abusive to throw a 4 year old into the cold water of abstract learning, as it is abusive all along the way to rush the natural process of growing up (and out).  Let’s stop experimenting with our children.  Just as it was seen as cruel to isolate those baby monkeys, so it is just as cruel to force feed and over test our children.

brkn pencil


So perhaps we should give the tests themselves a big, red F and fail anything and everything that gets in the way of healthy, natural child development.  Because 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 wonders!

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