Ed Talks

Imperfect Methods of Change and the Common Core Standards


Image from Keyboarding course book at St. Paul Lutheran Schools Moodle LMS

I know what conclusions you’re drawing from my title. The first two words, “Imperfect Methods” imply negativity. Linking that phrase with the Common Core standards sets a reader into believing a bash of Common Core is soon to follow.

However, I am a teacher outside the realm of compliance to Common Core. My school, a small parochial school, develops our own standards. We are scrutinized, poked and prodded every few years by an accreditation team in our state, and if we are approved we continue on. If we need to adjust, we receive suggestions to make necessary changes. So, while we work diligently and passionately to provide a great education to students, when accreditation time comes around we feel confident that the team effort will continue on. There is perhaps some breath holding, but all-in-all as a team, there is certainty that only minor adjustments will need to be made.

I share this with you because I am an observer of Common Core from a distance. I have friends in public education and while I have no input bemoaning adaptation of a new set of standards, I do listen. The very first administrative moan I heard about two years ago was “Fourth graders need to write a half page, digitally, within a 20-30 minute time period. That means they have to keyboard. Where are we going to find time to keyboard?!”  View the actual standard here.

I applauded this change. Up until now, Missouri districts have been given leeway on implementation of technology to a large extent. If Common Core gives more kids access to computers, that is a great thing. Will other areas of the curriculum suffer by pulling time? If districts would follow a simple method of teaching keyboarding the minute students walk in the door, it wouldn’t. If school districts would filter funds into placing a device or laptop into the hands of every student, it wouldn’t. Even if it was just one hour a day.

I have an old friend that disagrees with my viewpoint of handwriting skills taught in school. It’s my opinion that block printing is enough for students and he argues that all should learn cursive. It’s a hot topic between us in our social media; we like to jab at each other about it in a friendly manner. I insist cursive writing should become an art activity and he insists that we will create generations that cannot read letters or journals left by their ancestors. He has a good point, but where are we going to find that spot in the school day to implement cursive writing when we also need to keyboard and publish online?

Here may be an imperfect method of change. We may require exchanging cursive writing for time keyboarding, a skill that greatly enhances career impact, something my students discovered in research this past year. However, I have yet to hear if this is what is occurring. Here is your opportunity to sound off on the ways your school district is implementing keyboarding. Do you think it will be successful? Do you believe cursive writing is still necessary?


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