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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Have you heard about Crazy Common Core Groupies?

I saw this image at with the caption A Girl with a book, and the following Oscar Wild quote "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” 

It got me to thinking about these Common Core Groupies running around shouting Rigor, Rigor, Rigor. They certainly have no sense of vocabulary, or what a dictionary is. Any quick check of the meaning of rigor comes up with something like this:" 

hardship, harshness, severity, adversity; ordeal, misery, trial; discomfort, inconvenience, 

a mine operated under conditions of rigor: strictness, severity, stringency, toughness, harshness, rigidity, inflexibility, intransigence.

intellectual rigor: meticulousness, thoroughness, carefulness, diligence, scrupulousness, exactness, exactitude, precision, accuracy, correctness, strictness.

(rigorsthe rigors of the journey: hardship, harshness, severity, adversity; ordeal, misery, trial; discomfort, inconvenience, privation.
If they did they might understand why early childhood experts think they are plain nuts. Actually early childhood experts viewed them as being absolutely, completely, totally crazy, wacko nuts! 

Early childhood experts can't see any parent saying bring on the 





Misery, and 

Discomfort for my child. 

I hope this problem with the rigor thing is starting to make a little sense now. It certainly is not a word we should be using with young children. 

Now back to reading a book you enjoy over and over again. It appears these CC Groupies don't have time for anything, but this close reading thing. They are fanatical over it in fact. This close reading doesn't take into account any emotional connections to books. It's all objective for them. For example: when I finished reading Isabel Allende's "House of spirits" I was in between flights at O'Hara International Airport. I found myself crying uncontrollably so like any "too proud to cry" male I hid my tears under my jacket. It appears that was all wrong with them. They can't get past any type of enjoyment in reading. Now I did say enjoyment, but reading "Hosue of Spirits" made me sad enough to cry. How does that become enjoyment, well really sad books have a way of releasing happy tearful tears. Sort of like the blues, and I'm a big blues man. Now these CC Groupies can't take crying of any kind. Can't you hear them shouting: It's all about the information, the standards, and the test stupid.  Pleasing them would mean I should have focused on the factual information, and not get lost in the narrative of love, lost, and pain. They'll all objective about books; it's all about the information. Understand these are CEO types, they dream of a McEducation for every child. Every burger is the same size, every one cooked at the same temperature, and they all get flipped at the same time. McEducation is for everyone, but their children. Well that's me getting off the subject again. I do that when I write. I also do it when I read sometimes as well. Getting lost in books is equivalent to finding your soul. They'll never get that one. My apologies the subject is reading a book you enjoy over and over again. 

I have been working with struggling readers, their parents, and their teachers for over 30 years now. I can't remember one skill, one strategy, one phoneme, vowel, or vocabulary lesson that sparked a love of reading. That is not to say these things didn't help, but compared to discovering the right book these are grains of sand.

Now yes, the right book is important, but it's like a pebble really. That is when compared to the climate created by the right teacher/parent/friend/ that invites the reader into the right book. The right climate is a mountain compare to the right book. It's the Holy Grail of joining the literacy club. On the journey to becoming a reader who enjoys reading the sand becomes the pebbles, the pebble become the mountain. It all goes together. Remember reading is a complex process. Anyone telling you differently is nuts.   

Remember those CC Groupies they do get all up tight with enjoying reading anything. Heck if you expect to enjoy reading then you might expect to enjoy your job one day. Every teacher, knows that Common Core Heaven explicitly forbids it's groupies from enjoying anything about any one's future career. Everything about the future scares them. They live in constant fear of the 21st century despite living in it. Future careers are all about being college ready and globally competitive. I can't imagine inspiring young people by saying, "stay focused, or you won't be globally competitive" in the future. The future for me as a young kid was about being the heavy weight champion of the world, the next Elvis, and or the next Steve McQueen. This globally competitiveness thing would not have inspired me. Now I am doubly sure it wouldn't inspire today's young people.  

A quick review we have grains of sand, pebbles, and the mountain. Right?

Well together they become the magic that sparks reading for enjoyment. The magic is the invitation to join the literacy club. Oh, oh, I mentioned the Literacy Club again, this means I have to mention Frank Smith who happens to be a real literacy expert. These CC Groupies hate literacy experts. Actually CC Groupies hate just about any education expert. They hate researchers as well. They adore their CEO friends, Billionaires friends, and Ed Deformer friends. Now these Ed Deformers friends utterly hate "The Literacy Club." it's a Frank Smith metaphor describing the social nature of literacy learning. You see the problem don't you? You realize the word socialism has the word social in it. To these CC Groupies reading is a fierce competition, child against child, friend against friend, even family member against family member. Reading in the 21st century for CC Groupies is a survival of the fittest 

Everyone agrees reading is a complex process, and no one has a simple answer, but I have never met a reader who loves reading who never fell in love with at least one book. Now these Common Core groupies they don't have time for these things, they only have rigorous demands on students and teachers. Their mantra said over and over again a hundred times every hour is "We need rigorous standards and rigorous tests will save us". Sounds kind of corny to me actually. 
As for me well  I would go for the right book, right climate, even if the book is about Zombies. I wouldn't even mention the word zombies around these people. That's another story about their obsessive love of non-fiction books. I'll cover that, some other day people.  
Let me end by saying imagine a world where learning isn't a race, 
You know like in Finland. 
Oh, they are ranked number one in literacy.
  Emmmm, they might have something there. 

Still walking,

Jesse The Walking Man

If you are wondering what I am listening to today on my walk over the mountain it's all Barry Lane.



  1. I guess comic books would be out with those common core groupies. I wouldn't have stood a chance with them Walking Man. Hey still no lay off notice. Keep your fingers crossed.

  2. Walking Man,
    After 20+ years teaching, I totally agree with you! Keep walkin', I'm right behind ya.

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