I remember learning about the Etruscans when I was in the 9th grade. To this day I couldn’t tell you what they did or who they were because it was so boring I could barely keep from nodding off while writing the report and pray I didn’t get the uncontrollable giggles when I gave my presentation.
So when I discovered this Common Core lesson on Early World Civilizations and began to read up on the things being taught in the unit, imagine my surprise when I discovered this lesson was for 1st grade. Yes, you read that right, FIRST grade. Six year olds will be asked to do the following:
Explain the significance of the Code of Hammurabi;
Explain the significance of gods/goddesses, ziggurats, temples, and priests in Mesopotamia;
Describe key components of a civilization.
Those are only three of the eighty one (81!) things that your 6 year old should know at the end of this “ELA Domain.” And none of them have anything to do with the actual mechanics of reading and writing.
This particular lesson was taken from EngageNY, an organization created by the New York State Education Department to provide Common Core-aligned educational resources among other things.
Now I will ask you: Where are the foundations that are taught in first grade English Language Arts? Where are the principles of sentence structure, punctuation, or spelling? Where are the fundamentals of story structure? Beginning, middle and end.
In the first grade most kids still take two lines to write their names and only get the first two or three letters on that first line and have to continue with the rest of their name on subsequent lines.
And don’t worry; the standards are only in English Language Arts and Math. Never mind the small piece of information that people seem to gloss over when saying that science and social studies are going to be addressed through the ELA.
Not only is this subject and lesson completely and wildly age inappropriate and boring for little children it is the perfect example of the way these standards will use English Language Arts to indoctrinate.
Under the cover of ELA the supporters who seek to push their own political agenda can have children reading documents about climate change, same sex marriage, and other political firestorms, slowly indoctrinating them to the bias of these pieces.
And to boot, not only are these standards developmentally inappropriate education wise, they are emotionally inappropriate! Many of the lessons in one Common Core suggested ELA book are emotionally manipulative and instruct small kids to learn to use very emotionally charged words like “demand” and “nag.” It encourages kids to disrespect their parents and in doing so, I believe, try to separate them from that parent.
Little children in the first grade will be conditioned and learning all about age inappropriate things. And when do they learn the real stuff? What about the stuff that gets you through just about every aspect of daily life?
Basic grammatical skills will get you more in real life than knowing what components make up a civilization.
I will even posit that if you have a Facebook account you should at least be literate enough to know the difference between your and you’re; their, there and they’re. I’m sure you know someone who is not familiar with these basics. Recall how hard it is to read a status update when someone doesn’t have the primary set of skills to properly convey their message in writing. Now imagine that same hot mess on a job application or a resume. Or even worse, imagine these people being in charge of educating the next generation.
When do we learn these things if not in the very early primary grades? The foundational skills of reading, spelling, sight words and grammar have got to be laid before we venture into early civilizations. They need to be laid before we even venture into chapter books!
When this lesson was put forth in a very large group of teachers every single one said, “Oh, that’s a mistake. They didn’t mean to label it as first grade. That is surely, at least, a sixth grade topic.”
My first thought when I saw this lesson was that I am sure glad I don’t live in New York. My second thought was that it doesn’t matter because these are national standards, so it very well could come here. My third thought was, to my horror, when my fear was realized. A teacher I know told me that, indeed, this lesson was proudly shown off to our little town’s educational professionals. I live in a small town all the way across the country from New York. Nationalization of education sure is fun, isn’t it? If we can teach first graders about early civilization, surely we can find someone to create a sarcasm font, no?
Look how smart your first grader will be! They will know all about Mesopotamia! They won’t know how to spell their name or write a sentence, but by golly, they will know about early civilizations!
It makes you wonder what kind of “high minded” people wrote these standards. Oh wait. We know who wrote them. And it wasn’t actual teachers.
I just can’t wait until the day that I’m in my 80’s and I ask a younger person what time it is. They’ll give me the rundown on how to build a watch, but they won’t know how to tell time.
I look forward to sharing with you the math standards. If this article didn’t scare you, that one will.