The Absurdity of Top-Down Education (including Common Core)

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Mark Stewart
The Absurdity of Top-Down Education (including Common Core)

Oh my. The tyranny of the elites has grown stronger. This comes in the form of
demands that we not question Common Core, as if we're too lowly or
unsophisticated. Let's use common sense to assess Common Core.
Top down education says there is one way, and we edu-crats know what it is. We
foist it upon your kids, and the only way to escape it is to withdraw and pay for
private school. If there are mistakes coming from the top-tier edu-crats, we all
must live with them. Indeed, until corrected, the mistakes become part of the new
The silly aspects of Common Core math are already legendary. I will not put any
URLs here lest you cry over the bureaucratic stupidity. James Milgram sums up the
problems on the Math side of common core exceptionally well:
Not only do the confusing ways of doing the new math alienate parents who'd like to
help their children, the side-instruction demands that parents NOT help -- leave
teaching to the educators; stay away from your child's development.
Common-Core development was a knee-jerk reaction. Our students are not
learning well in many schools, so some elites felt the need to impose a standard on all
schools. The wiser approach would be to bring aspects of good schools to deficient
schools. What works is 1) dedicated teachers 2) with students whose parents want
them to learn, and 3) administrators who won't impede the learning. Curriculum is
hardly the culprit.
Here's how curriculum could become the villain: when one size fits all and it's
WRONG. That is devastating, because all public school students will be erroneously
The Stewart Solution: Top-down imposition of education is dangerous; we need
bottom-up learning. Take a lesson from the most creative companies: Google's
board members don't create the newest products -- they let their underlings
experiment and let good methods percolate to the top. The same is true at our top
universities -- Lab directors rarely impose a course of study; instead they
manage bottom-level research to foster patentable innovation.
A variety of techniques in education will yield some good and some
not-so-good. Schools on an INDIVIDUAL basis can adapt, taking some of one
curriculum, some of another, and some of their own. We find wisdom doing this
commercially with our state business laws (the UCC is a model that states are free to
adopt wholly or in part). We should do the same for our children's
education. Particularly in the sciences, individual schools will adapt far more
quickly than a top-down education bureaucracy. That's important for
competitiveness globally. English, math, and history barely change, but science
does rapidly. Common Core is a recipe for scientific stagnation, along with bad
learning, and parent alienation.

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