Friday, January 11, 2013

Geography and the Common Core State Standards

I am keeping a watchful eye on the most recent educational conundrum that has been presented.  Below is an excerpt titled "Mission Statement" from    
"The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."   
These standards were a state-led initiative by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)  for "Preparing American Students for College and Career".

So why are the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) puzzling? 

My foremost concern is with the use of phrases such as "real world" and "global" in a mission statement where neither are formally addressed.  The world is interconnected in ways we have never seen before.  How are Americans supposed to interact with people from other nations when not one single element of global knowledge or cultural awareness is addressed in the Common Core State Standards?   

Why is geography education being marginalized when taking academic achievement into account, where geography is at the very core of the global economy?

Yet, our schools, our principals, our teachers will be expected to play by the rules and follow the guidelines provided to them and assess children on their abilities within the CCSS to prepare them for the global stage.  Here is where we start to wonder...

How can we help?

As educators and parents, we don't believe that kids should wait until 6th grade to learn about the world.  Children as young as 3 or 4 are capable of content and cognitive skills that relate to geography education.  Why not start there?

At Footprints of the Mind, we hand select culturally related stories to enhance the Literacy Standard, tactile objects for our Travel Trunk that meet History Standards, specimens from across the globe that relate to Science Standards, write postcards home that fulfill Writing Standards, and even manage to add art as a process for creativity and music for imagination.  Within one hour of "traveling" to a foreign land, students have met more than 10 Common Core State Standards, but have done so with an enriching geographical perspective.  

Most importantly, however, is we have provided the stepping stone for a lifelong global outlook.  Now that's fully preparing American students for the future!   

1 comment:

  1. It is puzzling to me that the CCSS in Geography are guidelines that teachers are required to adhere to in order to prepare children for the "global" community, when in fact, social studies is not formally assessed on any standardized state tests (including the ACT). Sadly, most schools have not invested in geography education over the years and many have actually cut the course from graduation requirements. I now find myself teaching the 50 states to high school freshmen that were never taught the locations in grade school. A survey completed by National Geographic finds that young Americans score next to last on Geographic literacy compared to other "developed" nations' young people. What does this mean for America? It means that more and more Americans live within their community "bubble". If it's not within 5 miles from their house, then it doesn't matter to them. Social media has connected the global community in ways that we have never seen before! Unfortunately, budget cuts in educational programs have forced many schools to funnel their funds into math and reading programs with little regard to social studies. The CCSS offer the framework for Geography literacy but don't exactly provide the teacher training needed in order to implement such standards. Educational enrichment programs, such as Footprints of the Mind, offer the much needed curriculum in Geography that many American schools are so sadly lacking.