Posts Tagged ‘education’

I am one of the most conservative political persons you can imagine and as such I have been quite frustrated with those that are aligned with me politically and the closed-minded stance that they have taken to the Common Core standards. From Conservative political candidates for president to politically active Conservative individuals, many have exhibited their ignorance (defined as: one with a lack of knowledge or information) in many instances. Therefore, it was refreshing to learn that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, of which I am an active member, formally published a document recently that demonstrated a positive and accurate reaction to the CCSS from a Conservative Christian perspective. Here are some of the important points made in “Should Lutheran Schools Consider Adopting the Common Core State Standards?”

  1. Lutheran schools have a rich heritage and long standing commitment to academic excellence that is rooted in the Christ-centered mission that flows from the Lutheran Confessions. The Common Core State Standards may serve as a tool that enhances curriculum development. They could provide additional guidelines upon which the rigorous programs of study for our students could be designed. The rigor is not the product of the CCSS standards alone; rather, is connected with the instructional process provided by Lutheran educators.
  2. The Common Core State Standards suggest a set of high-quality academic expectations that all students should master by the end of each grade level. They propose consistent grade-level learning goals for all students and inform parents about learning outcomes, thereby making it easier for parents to collaborate with teachers in helping their children achieve success.
  3. The Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum. (emphasis added) A curriculum includes what, when and how subjects are taught and what materials to use. These matters are not dictated by the Common Core State Standards. For Lutheran schools, these elements will continue to be determined by individual schools, working to meet the needs of their students.
  4. The Common Core State Standards represent a fundamental shift in the teaching and learning process. They establish clear, measurable goals for students that assist teachers in making instructional decisions. They place emphasis on creativity, critical and analytical thinking and application to curriculum content. They may serve to assist our schools in guiding the way that instruction takes place in each classroom while allowing the school to develop its own unique curriculum content.
  5. The Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI), Christian Schools International (CSI) and The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) support the move toward the Common Core State Standards. The reason? – Its focus on rigor, relevance, best practices, and college and career readiness.
  6. Ultimately, Lutheran schools will determine independently which standards to follow. The process of that discovery must remain true to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Christ-centered mission: to provide a solid, Christian education developed with standards that drive instruction so that every child can be reached with an effective education – one that centers on the LCMS faith. The Common Core State Standards may be considered a tool that would allow LCMS schools to more fully prepare its students for service and witness to Christ and the world.

What I find the most reassuring about this document is that if one will take an honest look at the standards themselves with an open mind to assessing their quality removed from the political process and scheming that many see how powerful and helpful they are!

Trey Cox, Ph.D.


I am working with my students to make sense of the chain rule in a calculus 1 class. This entails engaging students in activities to first make sense of the composition of functions and then to make sense of the rate of change with a composition of functions.

It is really great to see students working to make sense of and to develop their own thinking about an idea. I was reflecting on this today and about how much easier, in one sense, it would be if I just showed them how to “do it.” You know, “first you take the outside derivative and then multiply it by the inside derivative.” Then I watch them practice this procedure and walk around and help students to see the pattern and to correct any mistakes in their working of the procedure.

But, where is the conceptual power in this? Where is the meaning of derivative as a rate of change? And, what is the point in just knowing how to do the procedure? This kind of learning is so shallow. However, this is what I see when I visit classrooms…students trying to mimic the procedure of doing the chain rule without any attempt to develop understanding, to build upon mathematical meanings (like the meaning of the derivative), or to develop mathematical ideas.

So why is it that the most typical teaching style that I observe is that of just showing students how to do a procedure rather than to push students to make sense of a big idea?  After a couple of lessons with the chain rule material here, I have a guess…it is much more challenging to push students to make sense! Students struggle (as they should…making sense of an idea takes work). Students give up quickly (they hold strongly to the belief that math problems can be solve quickly). Students sometimes rebel (their friends in other classes don’t have to work so hard). So, teachers give up (if they try to teach conceptually).

I refuse to give up. I see the value in providing the opportunity for students to develop their ability to reason, make sense, problem solve, and think. I continue to support students in their efforts and I continue to “sell” the approach so that they might continue to try. Teachers need to carefully balance the pushing, pushing, pushing and then backing off as students learn to persevere in their efforts to make sense.

I encourage everyone to use this community to stay motivated by getting involved in this community…ask questions, share ideas, vent, use resources, tell about successes and challenges.