Thursday, 24 October 2013 10:15

Common Core: Teaching Kids What — Not How — to Think (Video)

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In a brief video on the Obama administration-pushed nationalization of education through Common Core standards, part of an ongoing series about the scheme produced by The New American, veteran educator Mary Black highlights yet another troubling element of the national educational agenda. Considering the teaching styles and the standards themselves, she explained, Common Core could lead to potentially disastrous effects for future generations of Americans and the nation itself.

According to Black, who has 40 years of teaching experience and became an expert on Common Core amid her tireless efforts to expose it, schooling under the controversial standards amounts to teaching students what to think — instead of how to think. For America, that means big problems in the future, because the perpetuation of liberty and self-government requires citizens who know how to think critically and independently.

In the short video, Black draws attention to some of the many alarming facets of Common Core. Among the concerns: The fact that the standards are copyrighted by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). That means the public will have “no chance to change and alter them,” explained Black, who also serves as the student development director for FreedomProject Education, an online K-12 school offering a classical education based on Judeo-Christian values rather than Common Core.

“The standards, when you look at them, encourage a very robotic style of teaching,” she continued. “Supposedly, we’re told, they encourage independent thinking and more critical thinking. But when the standards require that the students document statements from reading material with statements that are from the reading material, it is definitely a fact that students are being taught what to think and not how to think. Truly critical analysis means tying things together that are in the knowledge base of a student, rather than just repeating what’s in the written material.”

The proof is already out there “that the curriculum is going to be very agenda-driven,” she said. Among other concerns, that means that those who own the copyright “can control what our students are reading and studying.” That, in turn, “leads to indoctrination,” Black said. “With this comes the ability for those who control the Common Core — the contents, the copyright for Common Core — to control what our students think. It’s very much within the realm of possibility.”

The dangers, however, go even further, she said. The United States, with its government founded upon the U.S. Constitution, requires an educated population — citizens capable of thinking and reasoning logically and independently. “The danger of a group of students, such as we’re educating now, not having this ability — being dependent on being told what to think and being led rather than acting independently — is a true danger to our country,” she said.

The teaching methods themselves, meanwhile, are also highly problematic, Black explained, pointing to those used in math as another example. Dubbed “Pair and Share,” the scheme involves having students teach and share math concepts with each other. “The idea of Pair and Share is very socialistic in nature, because, again, students are being told what to think — not how to think — and are not developing that independence of standing up for the answer that they believe is correct and to rely upon their own God-given abilities,” Black said.

“I like to call things as I see them,” the veteran educator continued. “The crux of all of this is that God has given each of us an innate intelligence, and our country — the fate of our country — depends upon each and every citizen having that developed, and using it.” The alternative — raising a generation of students lacking critical thinking skills — will lead to a citizenry that is essentially incapable of governing itself.

In another recent TNA video about Common Core, FPE Academic Director Dr. Duke Pesta, who also serves as an English professor at the University of Wisconsin, examined the sex education, science, and history standards. In addition to highlighting the radical content of the standards, he echoed concerns about Common Core being used for “social engineering” — a fear expressed by numerous other experts across the country.

Separately, Black and Dr. Pesta, both of whom testified against Common Core at recent hearings in Wisconsin, also produced a longer presentation explaining the myriad problems with the standards in much greater detail. It is available through FPE or free online. The New American magazine, meanwhile, has published in-depth reports on Common Core and the accompanying data mining, in addition to keeping up with the latest news about the standards through TNA online.

Watch Black’s latest video below:

1 comment

  • Comment Link J. Warren Clark Monday, 28 October 2013 15:30 posted by J. Warren Clark

    The problem here seems to be that Mary Black’s talk assumes that our current educational ground is normative, i.e., healthy, which clearly it is not! As one of the seven pillars of our republic, education like all the others is completely broken--I mean the fact that we still have teachers, administrators, and students ("butts") in seats is significant only for those who are not able to think critically and confuse, for one, the outer with the inner.* And, those so confused are a lot of people--the products, obviously, of our current ed. system.**
    There are actually eight pillars, the public itself counting as one. But since the public without the others working as they are intended is not a public at all but an unthinking rabble—our current citizenry—this usually materializes as a passive herd, or, when that comfortable passivity has been sufficiently troubled, as an angry inarticulate mob. For decades on end, every 4 or 8 years this rabble will elect an alternative liar and proudly do so "with equal indifference to reason!" This is obviously not the work of an informed citizenry. But this is exactly what the products of our current dysfunctional schools DO! Indeed, it is all they CAN do. So, to imagine that if we stop Common Core things will be OK is just wrong, even naive. And Ms. Black does not mention our current situation that I can see, or how we might fix it. And while she mentions a curriculum that is based upon Judeo-Christian values she neither mentions the Greeks or the fact that those with the mandate to teach Judeo-Christian values (our churches) are, despite their “learning,” incompetent to lead our citizens anywhere except to one damn war after another—yes, and “with equal indifference to reason.”

    And while she does point out correctly that a free republic requires an informed (educated) public to function properly, indeed to function at all, she does not refer to any other core principles in the Classical education that she espouses. Other than saying that the Common Core curriculum will make our citizens more mechanical and dependent rather than free and independent thinkers—a claim which Common Core advocates can and do make just as easily—she does not spike her talk with any vital “self evident truths” that might lead us to believe that her program would be more firmly rooted in “love of neighbor” or any less bias an indoctrination than what parishioners currently receive from the pulpit. To me this lack is either a missed opportunity, or a big red flag. I for one would like to know just what the Judeo-Christian values are that she would teach in her schools and whether those come from the Master Himself, or from Paul or some of the other more literalist and indoctrinating evangelicals. The difference is huge, as large at least as the difference between the teaching of principles that would actually liberate, from those that circumscribe, limit, and indeed control what otherwise might be a free journey to awakening, to a “transformation of the human mind.”

    So here is the question: who is going to teach in a new system that would replace Common Core and the broken system it is now trying to systematize and control from the federal level? The way I see it, and I have been involved in it and studying it since my grammar school days, the only alternative to today’s public education (which teaches that because church and state are separate that even values [character] cannot be addressed for fear of being charged with indoctrination, or preaching) is offered by those who think that the doctrine of separation is wrong headed, that church indoctrination and forced belief has no significant historical precedent, that Christ was never collapsed into Caesar, and who would bring pulpit Christianity back into the school house as a (highly, highly questionable) corrective. But clearly this alternative is as mad, is it not, as the game of musical chairs that characterizes the sacred cow of our firmly established and jealous two-party system--a system which is happy to every four years exchange one ethical moron for another? To substitute one extreme for another is never the rational, but always the reactionary, solution. This is just, well, elementary, isn’t it?

    So, obviously indoctrination is spiritually and politically dangerous. We know this. But it is dangerous whether it originates from the Left or from the Right, whether it comes from socialists with totalitarian leanings or from conservatives with Fascist proclivities. Isn’t this too just obvious—at least to critical thinkers? So, again, who is going to teach in our new system of education? And what are they going to teach?
    Clearly any sane and healthy system must help to build within each student the genuine “need” (Ortega) of understanding and the habit of reflection on serious vital topics that can be carried from the schoolhouse out and into a life seeking and serving commonly shared self evident truths. But this cannot be accomplished either by the always bogus control of the inner life (conscience) by Church interests, or by the mechanization of the public life by state run schools for whom citizens are only numbers in a larger but always amorphous whole, i.e., the State. Both are spiritually debilitating. And I want to hear talk of this from Ms. Black before I will give my personal nod to what she would offer as a corrective to the current train wreck that is modern American public education. From the ground up schools must “teach the (vital) need” of first principles and the curriculum must be turned from exclusively instrumental concerns to illustrations of just how the loss of functional knowledge of first principles has lead in every time and in every place to a literal hell on earth. How, for example, can we stop crime if we do not teach, correctly, that “history IS the history of crime?” (Ouspensky)
    I have drawn this out because education is the central element in any genuine human life—though interestingly it is at the bottom of the “top picks” of the editors at the New American today. Nothing could be more important than education. It is the very hinge pin of authentic human life. If we stopped these endless wars we would have the money to pay people to think about what education ought to be if we are to cultivate genuine humanity, to cultivate real humanity and not the weak, dependent, and unthinking sheep that is today’s American citizenry. I want to ask: what ethical moron will we elect as our next president? And what moronic servant of the status quo, and its mindless momentum, will we place at the head of our schools?
    There were actual wise men among our Founders, men who understood first principles and the necessity that we offer our free consent to their governing our lives. Where are the wise men today? I wonder, do you know even one?
    Thanks for your attention. Jay Warren Clark

    *Note the three pillars of our formerly separate branches of government are obviously fallen along with the central pillar of the Constitution which depends upon the active assent of living beings for its necessary embodiment (its actual life) and which is obviously empty of any significance for a public that is totally asleep. And today the Constitution has no genuine vitality, is a mere idea. But things are worse; as such the Constitution is simply a curtain, a pretense, behind which big money interests (shall we call them the 1%?) hide and manipulate a poorly tutored public who think that the image is the reality and actually offer their consent to the ludicrous notion that a loss of civil liberties can actually lead to freedom, or, the equally ludicrous notion that controlling foreign populations with a murderous military occupation can lead them to a better life and, indeed, Freedom without their consent! Please note that such self contradictory notions can only be sold to a population that is utterly incapable of critical thought. The other three pillars belong to the people but are equally broken and obviously ineffective in checking the evils of corporate controlled government. Current education is obviously an inversion of what it ought to be, and already teaches our youth WHAT, and not HOW, to think! Ms. Black doesn’t mention this. The press is obviously not free but has been allowed to become a singularly powerful vehicle for corporate (Fascist?) propaganda. And what is left of the churches have become un-reflective war mongering corporations who are incompetent to interpret and teach the compendium of Natural Law that they sit upon and use as a justification for their mandate to guide, teach, and indeed liberate those who come to them for help. Obviously the churches can indoctrinate, but who will argue that indoctrination by the Church is in fact liberating to the human spirit while the same from the State is enslaving? The answer: only a biased instrumental thinker seeking to control people, or, a person subject to that control and tutored on the merely instrumental curriculum of public education, i.e., a minimally functional fool, a worker in the various State and corporate machines.
    **And take care here before thinking that our "finest" institutions of higher learning produce a higher level of thinking and citizens interested in the common good. The education of most of these schools is purely instrumental and (with inexplicable exceptions) their products are merely a class of masters who serve the corporate interests by organizing and controlling the rest, the mass! And though they all started as church schools, the Harvards and the Yales of our nation have absolutely no interest in the liberation of men—though their praises are on the lips of every public figure. From the top down the whole of American education is bent to one purpose--increasing the profits of the already rich and influential. And while Common Core may systematize, and therefore make worse, the train wreck that is modern American education, the train wreck has already happened. Any discussion of American education must start here. If not, then any such discussion is not to be taken seriously.

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