Common Core Needs to Expand to Provide 'Global' Learning

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To the Editor:

It is distressing to read about ongoing legal maneuvers seeking to undermine the revision of public education—most recently by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Teachers, politicians, and parents from across the political spectrum have raised various, now-familiar qualms about the Common Core State Standards. But as a school board member and college professor of anthropology, I register another misgiving about the common core even as I support it: the failure of its stated goal "to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society."

The common core addresses English, reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as speaking, listening, media, and technology. Yet the standards omit any significant engagement with the "global." Students who master the new skills will thus remain unprepared to interact adeptly with other cultures and countries. They will not receive their intellectual passports to global citizenship. It is imperative that we globalize the entirety of the curriculum. Success tomorrow will require students today to learn to feel as much at home in Beijing and New Guinea as in Boston and New Mexico.

True, nothing inherent in the common core prevents individual teachers and districts from teaching global perspectives. But preparing students for worldwide leadership should not be left to whim.

The ability to think and act globally should be a central standard for every classroom, grade, and school. Gov. Jindal's lawsuit denounces the common core for seeking to "nationalize" the curriculum. Far more consequential, I suggest, is the inability of the common core to internationalize curriculum, and thus prepare American students for productive lives anywhere, and everywhere, in the world tomorrow.

Eric Silverman
Professor of Anthropology
Wheelock College
Boston, Mass.

Vol. 34, Issue 05, Page 24

Published in Print: September 24, 2014, as Common Core Needs to Expand To Provide 'Global' Learning
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