Ever since Common Core was rolled out earlier this decade, I have heard students, parents, and teachers complain about it. Most of the time, these people don’t really know what they are complaining about. My favorite question to ask is, “have you actually read the standards,” which is met with faces that look both confused and slightly annoyed that I would ask such a question.
Common Core is not perfect, but there are so many pieces of it that have pushed critical thinking, problem solving, and writing about things other than unicorns and rainbows. In social science, we teach students to both read critically, and write academically. We have talked about how you aren’t an expert by reading one source, but rather by reading many sources from different points of view. With regards to writing, you can write informational pieces or argument pieces, both of which take out words like “I, me, my, we, us” to give the author more authority than, “I think” or “we believe” statements.
So as my students have watched the turd tornado we call, “Election 2016,” they have been forced to think about things differently. We have talked about the need to read stories from a variety of points of view, watch different news channels, and evaluate online sources. We’ve talked about how MSNBC and Fox News are both biased, but if you know that going in, we can discover the other side’s point of view.
But, the greatest endorsement of Common Core came yesterday as we were talking about the third debate. By now, everyone knows that Trump has claimed, repeatedly, that if he loses, it’s because the system is rigged. We talked in class about media bias, and how that works both ways. We talked about how each state has its own “system,” so it would be 51 (including DC) systems that are rigged.
And then a student said,”we learned last year that when you make a claim, you have to back it up with evidence. Someone should mention this to Trump.”
When a 7th grader understands that claims need evidence and a presidential candidate doesn’t, that is a win for Common Core.
I’m not saying voter fraud doesn’t exist, I’m just impressed that 7th graders realize that words without anything to back them up should be questioned and fact-checked. If Mr. Trump has evidence that suggests that this is a real problem, he should share it, and then we could evaluate his argument. But throwing words out there with the only evidence being, “believe me,” it forces us to question the validity of this, and pretty much all, of his arguments.