“Being a good teacher is a lot like being a good gardener. Good gardeners are optimistic and patient. They are able to see the potential in those struggling young seedlings and enjoy watching them grow, develop and bloom. They give special tender loving care to those few plants that are struggling and not thriving.
They don’t blame the plant when it’s not performing well; they check the growing conditions. Is the soil the plant is growing in suitable or does it need amending? Does the plant need more water; does the plant need less water? Does the plant need more sunshine; does the plant need less sunshine.
Good gardeners are good problem solvers, but realize that sometimes no matter what you do, the plant still will not grow the way you would like it to.”
~ Elona Hartjes, “Good Teachers Are Like Good Gardeners”
If teachers are like gardeners, then the Common Core is like Miracle-Gro.
The makers of Miracle-Gro understand there are numerous factors that can impact plant growth, and their packaging includes the necessary disclaimer, “results may vary depending on rainfall and temperature.”
Soil formation and fertility is one of many influences on plant growth, and has a direct impact on the ability of a plant to thrive. There are 5 factors that contribute to soil formation including, parent material.
“Parent material affects soil fertility in many ways…Parent material is the starting point for most soil development…The type of parent material and how the soil is formed will greatly influence the properties of the soil.”
~University of Hawaii at Manoa, “Soil Formation”
The architects of the Common Core also understand that there are many factors outside the classroom and beyond the reach of teachers that directly impact student progress and “growth” yet they did not include a similar disclaimer regarding the effectiveness of the Standards…
“The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.”
By coupling the Standards with standardized tests and VAM the architects of the Common Core can conveniently deflect any concerns regarding the efficacy and quality of the standards because the lack of students to thrive in the classroom is attributed to ineffective teachers.
The architects of the Common Core may claim to be concerned about proper implementation of the Standards, but they obviously knew it would be very difficult for teachers to focus on thoughtfully unpacking the Standards while they were busy packing their bags.
It is understandable that nations want to replicate Finland’s bountiful education “garden” but we are spending millions of dollars on new computers, software solutions, and standardized tests to increase student achievement while neglecting to invest in art programs, work-based learning, trade and vocational programs, adult education, wrap around services, and other community-based programs that help to assure America’s education soil is ‘fertile” and will properly nourish student “growth”.
That is like a gardener purchasing a lifetime supply of Miracle-Gro, pruning shears, and rulers to measure plant growth, but having no more money to purchase frost blankets, a garden hose, or even pay the water bill.