I’m confused, I admit.

Just recently spent a week with educators at the SXSWedu in Austin, TX (a very cool event by the way), where CCS (Common Core Standards) were the talk of the day, if not the talk of the conference.

Tried to dive in to better understand what it is and spoke to many educators and education entrepreneurs – and what I got is a lot of question marks. A few educators admitted that they are not sure what to do with the CCS, how to decipher the code encrypted in them and transfer it to a clear and relevant work plan in the classroom. Some simply found it “out of sync” with their work (here’s a good example – http://wapo.st/GHVI7T)

I took a look: http://www.corestandards.org/ – read sample items and thought about it. 10-04-2013 10-20-29

I thought that defining the school curriculum through skills we want to achieve rather then through a specific content one has to go through, is a pretty cool idea and I would love for it to happen here too (I live in Israel), and all over the world. Awarding kids with skills is really “teaching them how to fish”.

However, I do believe, after reading some of the items, that they are not clear enough to become solid grounds for a school curriculum. They can be interpreted in many ways, and also – it could prove difficult to make sure the kids actually acquire these skills, in other words, would you test the kids in order to assess if they got those skills? How can you test for skills level in a way that won’t harm learners?

There were several very interesting discussions about the Common Core Standards I came across on various teachers networks. On Firesidelearning Mike posted this on 2009

Cindy posted this on May 2012  and this one on September 2012  and there are more mentions of the CCS if you search for it.

But even after reading all these discussions I fail to understand the shortlist of the pros and cons, and was wondering if you can help me summarize it and answer the following questions:

1) Are the common core standards needed?

2) What would you change in them?

3) What do the CCS mean for the choice of contents in classrooms?

4) In one of his talks I heard Jesse Schell describe standardization as the enemy of creativity. Is this true for the CCS in their current form too, or do they actually enable personalizing education to the student’s needs and abilities?