Everybody knows the story of the three little pigs and their need to flee from the big bad wolf.
The three pigs attempted to rid themselves of this horrid antagonist by building houses to shut him out. The first built his out of hay, which crumbled at the mere wisp of wind that left the wolf’s mouth. The second built his out of twigs, and with the flick of the wolf’s finger, the house crumbled to the ground. Alas, it was the third little pig–the one who built a strong and firm structure–who ended up protecting himself from the Big Bad Wolf.
So who’s the big bad wolf in our arena? Is it standards? Is it structure?
No, it’s misinformation.
Education is a diverse and well-researched field. People devote their lives to conducting this research, and by ignoring the knowledge-base that we have constructed as a field, we are not only creating more work for ourselves, but we’re doing a disservice to our kids.
And it’s really easy to get behind the misinformation. It’s really easy to hop on a bandwagon and ride along with a crowd. But what’s harder is actually digging in, finding the truth, and applying it to help our kiddos to the best of our ability. As a teacher, it’s important that we build our house of bricks, to keep out the Big Bad Wolf, so we can really do what’s best for our kids and what’s best for our future as an educated and informed society.
5 Steps to Building Your House of Bricks
(1) Learn about standards, and read about the Common Core. A lot of people have made standards-based learning and the Common Core out to be the big bad wolf, but it’s important to remember that these facets of education are here to help us, not to hurt us. They are there to provide structure to our house, and they are there to ensure that we’re supporting our kids to the best of our ability.
(2) Stay informed. Follow blogs, read the latest research, and don’t take anything at face value. Find the information yourself, think about it critically, and use your practical application of the practices to inform future decisions. While a great deal of teaching is grounded in relationships, connection, and unconditional love, a knowledge of basic pedagogy and research is equally as critical.
(3) Stay focused on whole-child, student-centered learning. A big misconception out there is that whole-child learning means an abandonment of standards, structure, and academics to focus on the social and emotional curricula. But the fact of the matter is that we need both. We need the social, emotional, and academic components of our curriculum to be intertwined and given equal weight.
(4) Use the information you get to help your kids, not confine them. When you begin to see standards and structure as a support on which students can blossom, you find ways to help them even more than you could before!
(5) Help your kids see themselves in a standardized curriculum. “Standardize” doesn’t have to be a bad word. It doesn’t mean we’re trying to standardize the individuality of our kids that we love, and this word is only bad if you make it so. What’s important to remember is that–just as an individual finds himself or herself in the midst of a culture–it’s possible and important that each of our students sees themselves in the curriculum.