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E.D. Hirsch and Common Core


Entropymama
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I just discovered a Classical charter school near me that sounds absolutely amazing. I spent a few hours on their website and found that they use E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Sequence for K-6. On further investigation it appears that the Core Knowledge Sequence (What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know books) are the basis for Common Core. 

 

Here's my question - I've heard great things about NtK and what I've read of Hirsch sound great. But of Common Core I've only heard horror stories about killing the love of learning in children and 'new math'. 

 

So what's the deal? Is it a matter of how the curriculum is implemented? Am I wrong in thinking they're related? 

 

Here's the link to the Core Knowledge Sequence website for reference http://www.coreknowledge.org/ckla-in-action

 

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I'm familiar with Core Knowledge and read E.D. Hirsch's book a few years ago where he called for a national set of standards. But all the math controversies over CCSS have NOTHING to do with CK. In fact, most CK charter schools use Singapore for math, which is one of the strongest math programs on the market.

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Hirsch advocates for content standards. Common core doesn't even have content standards. It just has some vague nonsense like "read and comprehend nonfiction texts" instead of an actual standard. The two are totally unrelated. It would be possible to do core knowledge in a way that aligns with common core.

 

Don't believe everything you hear about the math. Way too many people can't tell the difference between curriculum, implementation, and standards.

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The people that complain about the math on FB have obviously never read the actual CC standards.

 

I'd take a look at which curriculum the school uses. CC says absolutely nothing about "how" math is taught, so various types of math, from "traditional" to "fuzzy", can be labeled CC.

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CC says absolutely nothing about "how" math is taught, so various types of math, from "traditional" to "fuzzy", can be labeled CC.

Yes and no. It does say how to teach some concept, including requiring teaching of bar diagrams that Singapore teaches.

I feel that it's very conceptual and in early grades (the only ones I looked at) it looks very SMish. My only gripe is how slowly the topics move, but I realize that it could be the right pace for many kids.

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Yes and no. It does say how to teach some concept, including requiring teaching of bar diagrams that Singapore teaches.

 

 

My understanding of the CCSS mention of those diagrams is that it is listed as a possible way for the student to tackle a ratio problem. It's not a required method, and many other possible methods are listed as well. Most (if not all) of the the time that a specific method is mentioned, that method is given as an example, not a requirement.

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My biggest beef with CC is that they don't allow for acceleration in math until 7th grade. However, it looks like you are in MN. MN did not accept CC in math, so it is unlikely this school is following that requirement. I wouldn't allow any CC worries to sway the decision.

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Yes, exactly.  They are not the same and are not equivalent.

I'm familiar with Core Knowledge and read E.D. Hirsch's book a few years ago where he called for a national set of standards. But all the math controversies over CCSS have NOTHING to do with CK. In fact, most CK charter schools use Singapore for math, which is one of the strongest math programs on the market.

 

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My understanding of the CCSS mention of those diagrams is that it is listed as a possible way for the student to tackle a ratio problem. It's not a required method, and many other possible methods are listed as well. Most (if not all) of the the time that a specific method is mentioned, that method is given as an example, not a requirement.

Not just on ratios. I actually used engageNY CC teacher material online to teach fraction multiplication and division in SM. It worked out well. :)

 

There are elements of CC that remind me of CK, like recommendations to study myths/tales. The reading list recommendations for upper grades could be out of the WTM if you choose it to be. Basically of you have a skilled teacher and sensible administration, you can design CC material well, or do something dumb, like take out literature and read informational texts that really belong in history or science classes.

 

And yes not allowing acceleration and discouraging publishers from putting topics ahead of CC is troubling to me because of my particular set of kids. I am sure the focus on narrow topics and slow and steady pace is great for many kids, but what about kids who are bored?

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I have read E.D. Hirsch's book The Knowledge Deficit.  Honestly, i don't have a problem with him.  He basically states that there is just common knowledge that we all need to have as a society.  It is common for kids to learn the same things every year because the teachers haven't discussed what the kids have already learned (like they could do plants every year).  I see his point.  

 

That said, the Common Core doesn't really have content standards (which is Hirsch's whole point).  There is no mandate to learn about the War of 1812 in second grade or birds in fourth grade or anything of the sort.

 

So, I wouldn't be suspect of this program based solely on that. Good luck in your decision!

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Thank you! This has really cleared some things up. 

 

I just ran to the library and got a copy of What Your K'er Needs to Know (the only one they had) and I think it's wonderful. Assuming the school is based on that premise, I can't think of an objection. I was just surprised to hear (apparently incorrectly) that Common Core was based on E.D. Hirsch. It looks like I was wrong. 

 

This school does use Saxon. I just need to find out if it's the new Saxon or the old Saxon. :) 

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Guest Robert Pondiscio

First time poster, long-time Core Knowledge advocate.  It's not quite accurate to say Common Core and Core Knowledge are completely unrelated.  And E.D. Hirsch has indeed endorsed the standards.  Standards are standards, curriculum is curriculum.  They are not synonyms.  But Hirsch's support for Common Core -- and mine -- come down to these words in the standards:  

 

 

“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.â€

 

These 57 words, to all intents and purposes say what Don has been saying for decades.  If you want kids to be fully literate, they need a whole lot of knowledge.  Core Knowledge, nearly alone among ELA curricula, is built upon this understanding that CCSS demands.  

 

So no, CCSS is not a curriculum.  It can't be by law.  But the authors have bent over backwards to communicate a clear message to American education:  Listen to Hirsch.  

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Well, depending on how you define curriculum, yes, the CCSS comprises a curriculum, "the regular or  particular course of study in a school, college, etc.  

 

We also use curriculum to mean the specific books and other materials used to teach the course of study.

 

I could be wrong, but my understanding is that math is being taught in the manner that it is because of how the Common Core standardized tests are written.  So, while technically CCSS doesn't say "you have teach XYZ topic in this specific way," if it's presented in a specific manner on a high stakes test, it stands to reason that the teacher is going to, out of necessity, teach to the test with that in mind.

 

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Guest Robert Pondiscio

Math standards and ELA standards are very different animals.  Math has content standards (teach this); ELA has "process" standards (show you can do this).  This causes no end of mischief, from teachers mistakenly trying to teach the standards directly to the assumption that any ol' text will do to demonstrate mastery, etc.  

It's a vain hope to think you can teach to the test in reading.  You can't.  Your ability to make inferences, for example, is not a skill you can master in the abstract.  It's typically a function of what you know about the topic at hand. 

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