III. Land and Sea

Hansel and Gretel

III. Land and Sea

How impactful to land is this one fault line below the sea of educational politics?

  • The tsunami of educational empiricism, which has reduced the meaning and value of learning to numbers, covers nearly all the land. Only those on the high score ground are relatively unaffected.

  • The tsunami’s saltwater has infiltrated the underground fresh water systems, causing learners to believe that the only intelligence that matters is that which is attached to numbers — and the higher the better.
  • The tsunami’s force and saltwater have devastated the land’s ecosystems, causing destruction and saline toxicity to those who teach and support the natural intelligence within the learner.
  • To survive, those who teach and support the natural intelligence within the learner have shifted their focus, from the natural fresh water underground to a fear of the tsunami.  


On and deep within this landscape, where does the greatest hope exist? The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), for at their best intention and implementation, these standards provide for authentic, high-bar, skill-based, individualized learning. The challenge, clearly, is to separate the saline toxicity of standardized test-based empiricism, devastating to all on the lower ground, from the curricular virtues of the CCSS.

For, if saltwater is already in the soil, fresh water must be drawn, regardless. A society’s survival depends on it.


“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

One thought on “III. Land and Sea

  1. The standards movement was ushered in some 25 years ago by a series of beautifully written documents in different content areas… Those standards presented a lofty, but worth-shooting-for vision for what learners should know and be able to do… And then the standards movement was co-opted by the politicians and contaminated forever… I regret to say that I do not share your enthusiasm for the Common Core State Standards… In and of themselves, they present a vision for clarity, rigor, and coherence… But separating the educational value of the standards from the politics of accountability and rhetoric isn’t possible in my mind… The desalination process is way too difficult.

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