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News & Politics News & Politics

Common Core teaching Gettysburg Address without teaching Civil War

Posted by on Dec. 2, 2013 at 4:09 PM
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Recently, a perfect example came to light of the propensity of the Common Core curriculum to teach to a test instead of teaching to comprehend. 

It was revealed that a teaching unit on Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address instructs that students read the text but warns teachers not to inform kids what the speech was for, when it was made, or tell them about the Civil War that spawned the famed presidential message.

This unit on the Gettysburg Address was written by three educators who are chief authors of many Common Core policies: David Coleman, Jason Zimba, and Susan Pimental. The instruction can be found on the education website AchieveTheCore.org.

Early in the unit package informing teachers how to proceed, educators are instructed to avoid "giving background context" on the history of the Gettysburg Address.

The idea here is to plunge students into an independent encounter with this short text. Refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset. It may make sense to notify students that the short text is thought to be difficult and they are not expected to understand it fully on a first reading--that they can expect to struggle. Some students may be frustrated, but all students need practice in doing their best to stay with something they do not initially understand. This close reading approach forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all students as they seek to comprehend Lincoln’s address.

Valerie Strauss identified the main problem with this approach in a piece for theWashington Post in November.

"Such pedagogy makes school wildly boring," Strauss quotes an English teacher as saying. "Students are not asked to connect what they read yesterday to what they are reading today, or what they read in English to what they read in science."

Even educator Diane Ravitch finds this Common Core approach to be a major mistake. Ravitch, an appointee by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and an advocate of teachers unions, tweeted on November 28 that the whole idea of teaching the Gettysburg Address without teaching its context is a "travesty."

In an entry on her blog Ravitch asked, "How is it possible for any student to understand the meaning of the Gettysburg Address without knowing the historical context in which it was delivered?"

To teach the Gettysburg Address without teaching why it was given and what it means to our history and culture denudes the speech of all importance and makes of it a mere rhetorical exercise. This is not teaching.


by on Dec. 2, 2013 at 4:09 PM
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Replies (1-10):
JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 9:01 AM
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banging head into wall

4kidz916
by Gold Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 9:06 AM
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Early in the unit package informing teachers how to proceed, educators are instructed to avoid "giving background context" on the history of the Gettysburg Address.

How can one teach history without giving the background?  

PamR
by Platinum Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

The idea is to have them read the address and try to find their own understanding of it.  In other words, to use their own brains to interpret the meaning of Lincoln's speech.  Instead of being told what to think and parrotting it back. 

sarahjz
by Bronze Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Yeah, that is just crazy.  I am not wild about common core.  I've tried to keep an open mind about it, but the more I learn about it, the more I really don't like it.

grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM
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 Ludicrous reply.

Quoting PamR:

The idea is to have them read the address and try to find their own understanding of it.  In other words, to use their own brains to interpret the meaning of Lincoln's speech.  Instead of being told what to think and parrotting it back. 

 

grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM
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 The progressives have been rewriting our children's history books for about 100 years.  I guess that wasn't enough, now they're just going to skip it all together.

Great goal there.  Tell your students to read a Presidential speech and expect them to understand it when they know nothing behind the reason Lincoln gave it in the first place.

Isn't that nice......their way of teaching will leave many students 'frustrated', but hey, that's OK.  Let's frustrate the hell out of the little buggers.  That really will foster a love of learning.

Boy, I'll bet the employers of these kids in the future will be so happy at how much they've been dumbed down.  Hell, here come the robots taking over every human job, because they'll be able to do it better.

IhartU
by Bronze Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:06 AM
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Quoting grandmab125:

 Ludicrous reply.

Quoting PamR:

The idea is to have them read the address and try to find their own understanding of it.  In other words, to use their own brains to interpret the meaning of Lincoln's speech.  Instead of being told what to think and parrotting it back. 

 

 Seems odd that the majority of people who hate common core are the same ones bitching about 'liberal agenda' brainwashing their kids in school. The don't want kids taught the meaning of things because it might be biased and then when the kids are allowed to think for themselves, they complain about that too.

Rhodin
by Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM
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Lincoln gave that speech at that particular time for a reason.  He didn't just pull it out of his butt, it was a product of the war, politics, and culture of the time.

Quoting PamR:

The idea is to have them read the address and try to find their own understanding of it.  In other words, to use their own brains to interpret the meaning of Lincoln's speech.  Instead of being told what to think and parrotting it back. 


grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM
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 Your reply is a garbled mess.

Quoting IhartU:


Quoting grandmab125:

 Ludicrous reply.

Quoting PamR:

The idea is to have them read the address and try to find their own understanding of it.  In other words, to use their own brains to interpret the meaning of Lincoln's speech.  Instead of being told what to think and parrotting it back. 

 

 Seems odd that the majority of people who hate common core are the same ones bitching about 'liberal agenda' brainwashing their kids in school. The don't want kids taught the meaning of things because it might be biased and then when the kids are allowed to think for themselves, they complain about that too.

 

PinkButterfly66
by Bronze Member on Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM
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That isn't exactly the case.  If you go to the link and download the lesson plan, you'll find that it is a critical writing lesson as well as a history lesson.   

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