The latest in the whole phony reform of education movement is the idea of Common Core Curriculum. What is really involved here is the blending of the text book publishers, and standardized testing creators, and last but not least corporate control what is taught, bound into one money making package.
While proponents claim, among other things, that rigourous standards and uniform curriculum will pull everyone up, a dubious claim according to recent education research, a look at the major supporters of Common Core might give pause to another conclusion. The Gates Foundation and most of corporate America support Common Core, while parents and teachers groups in a large part are opponents.
Most people would say like everything else in a culture that promotes profit first over peoples needs, it is all about the money.
Common Core is yet another of the top down solutions that smacks of elitism and promtion of the whole idea we are the experts, so just sit back and we will tell you what to do. Paulo Freire in his 1972 book Pedagogy of the Opressed would have labeled this form of elitist oppression the Banking Model of Education.
In this form the teacher is the possesor of knowledge and the students are empty vessels to be filled with the teachers knowledge. They are then expected to memorize the lesson and regurgitate what they have been told on standardized testing. In short, this type of teaching is called the banking model, because the teacher makes a deposit of knowledge into the students minds the same way you put money in your banking account.
As Freire notes, " The more students work at storing deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop that critical consciousnesness which would result from their intervention in the world as tranformers of the world."Freire believed critical consciousness was what the real goal of education should be.
One of my criticisms of George Bush's education initiaitive No Child left Behind and Obama's Race to the Top is that they look at education as a patriarchical factory model. The student comes into the system an empty vessel , a resource material, with the mind a blank slate, and each grades teacher, like an assembly line, puts the same knowledge into each childs head and at various points in the assembly students are tested, like a quality control mechanism. The ultimate quality control is the high stakes testing in a childs senior year, where you don't graduate if you don't pass the test.
The patriarchical aspect of these reforms is that no where along the way are teachers, parents or local school boards consulted about the proposed solutions. The corporate model of course is not a democratic model which is what makes the banking model of education knowledge as a tool of oppression.
Freire, Bell Hooks and others believe a successful education model is one where we build a sense of community. Teachers and students become partners in the process of learning and the teachers role is not so much to have the answers but to ask the right questions. It is the student who must look at the questions and through the process of reflection and then action come up with their own answers. None of this even gets into the whole question of the politics of deciding what is placed into a textbook and what is intentionally omitted.
Hooks believed that students need to see that what they learn in the classroom can help them transform and change the world. Hooks believed a teacher not only helped students to know what was going on but to understand what was going on. This requires more than passive compliance in the classroom and rote regurgitation of corporate facts derived by experts unless your ultimate goal is a compliant ignorant workforce that lacks the knowledge skills to question their enslavement and oppression by Corporate rulers even if the rule is benign. Common Core would seem to fit the latter explanation.