The Common Core: School Subjects As a Means to Critical Thinking

November 26, 2013 by Geoff Nixon

Guest blogger Claire M. De Sanctis, M.Ed., wrote the following response to our post on shifts in U.S. education through the Common Core Initiative.  We are taking this opportunity to share another view on education and the Common Core. Please comment if you’d like to join the conversation.

As an 80-year-old former classroom teacher of grades 3 through 11, I have experienced many changes brought about by educators who were never in a classroom or did not understand that we teach students, not subjects. The subjects are a means to an end – the end being teaching students to think and love learning.

The trouble with the Core Curriculum is the selection of the subject and the time allowed for development in the classroom.

Why, in an English class, must critical thinking, analysis of character, and comparisons between different forms of representation be taught using Arthur Miller’s The Crucible?

In an 11th grade class there must either be more time spent in the classroom developing these ideas with the students instead of through homework, or there must be more manageable content used, which can be self-directed.

I have no trouble with the concept but with the way it is administered. I taught biology and chemistry using those subjects as vehicles to teach students critical thinking and to learn how to enjoy thinking. Biology and chemistry were the means, not the ends.