Common Core and the Classical Core Curriculum

Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards have become a heated topic of discussion among professional educators as well as homeschoolers. Memoria Press does not align its program with these standards for several reasons.

The first is that they are not as academically rigorous as the implicit standards behind Memoria Press’ Classical Core Curriculum. The standards are designed with public schools in mind, and because of this, the new national standards betray a “least common denominator” approach. The Classical Core Curriculum does not take such an approach but emphasizes the highest standards of knowledge, skills, and understanding.

The science standards, for example, do not pursue science study in high school beyond biology. Chemistry and physics are largely left out. The literature standards also require schools to reduce the amount of imaginary literature students read.

The Classical Core Curriculum stresses both history and literature because this is the way students are familiarized with their culture and are taught what virtue is.

The second reason Memoria Press does not follow the new national standards is because they have a political bent to them that we find disturbing.

In the science standards, for example, climate science is emphasized way out of proportion to its true place in science. Mentions of climate science dwarf all other scientific topics.

Finally, the national standards are strong on disconnected information, but weak on an integrated approach to thinking skills. The Common Core Standards have no provision for students to learn logic—nor do they contain any acknowledgement of the role the study of an inflected foreign language like Latin has in teaching students how to think in an organized and systematic way. The science standards have almost no mention of scientific reasoning and only mention the word “hypothesis” once.

Classical Education not only teaches students the information they need in order to excel academically, but it also teaches them how to think. Latin, traditional logic, and our other subjects give students the ability to think for themselves. The Common Core Standards talk about teaching students to think critically but give no means by which this goal can be achieved.

The Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards are just the most recent attempt by the public school establishment to appear as if it is doing something that will improve schools. However, there is no indication that this effort will produce results any different than those produced by the countless other high-profile education-reform attempts that have been made over the last 100 years.

Originally published in The Classical Teacher Late Summer 2011 edition.

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