I read with extreme interest Melissa Smith’s guest column of Oct. 10 regarding her distress at the thought of the Common Core curriculum experimenting with her children.
My children are now grown and raising children of their own, but Smith’s column hit me between the eyes because my middle son, David, is currently waging a battle in Utah against the adoption of the Common Core curriculum in the schools of his two children, Tyler, 11, and Grace, 7. Smith’s column made me resurrect an article I had written years ago and laid aside but thought of when I read her words. Here is the way my unfinished article began:
“ ‘A thousand plovers rise as one.’ That’s what it said. Can you imagine? No wonder I saved it. My son, David, was 8 years old when he wrote that. At the bottom of the page I had noted: David learns cursive. It was one of his old school papers I had found while rummaging through things I had saved from his childhood while preparing for the approaching rehearsal dinner for his wedding. Below the penciled words was a primitive drawing of four lark-like birds sailing across the sky. Guess David didn’t have room for the other 996 plovers.
“Obviously, those words were not David’s, but most likely an excerpt from an essay or poem his teacher had written on the board for the students to copy while practicing their cursive skills. How nifty! Instead of the usual alphabet or just a plain old sentence, his teacher had chosen to feed his soul with this beautiful quote while developing motor skills.
“Holding this yellowing piece of wide-lined paper in my hand, I couldn’t help but think once again that the success of a good education lies within the heart of the teacher, not in sophisticated computers or correct classroom acoustics or new carpeting or bright hallways, nor in bigger and more elaborate structures. Instead, superior education lies in inspired teaching.”
As I said, my children are all grown and educated and living very successful lives, and I very seldom venture an opinion about today’s schools, but I cannot help but support son David and Melissa Smith in their fight against a nationwide curriculum in which all children march like the people in Aldous Huxley’s book “Brave New World.”
How long has it been since you have read that book? The “common good” was paramount in that classic novel and in that nightmarish brave new world, and the Common Core curriculum speaks an eerie similarity to the uniformity of the automatons in that new world.
Smith refers to “a curriculum with very little local wiggle room.” Parents, if Common Core is adopted and you do not agree with something a textbook or teacher is teaching, you will not be able to go to your local school board and complain and get results. You would have to hassle with a federal bureaucracy. Are you ready for that? Do you realize what you are asking for?
I can only think of my son, David, as a young boy, laboriously writing out, “A thousand plovers rise as one,” and in my heart I reach out to congratulate him and wish him well for his brave fight against Common Core curriculum.
David and Melissa, may a thousand plovers rise as one and carry with them your excellent struggle so that your children may not fall victim to the common good. May your children rise on the wings of imagination and local teachers who want to inspire and enrich them. May they shoot for the moon and land among the stars. May a thousand plovers rise as one to aid you in your struggle.