Common Core: Let’s Talk “Why”, Not Just “What”

Since the adoption of the Common Core there has been much discussion about what it will mean for education in this country.  It has sparked thousands of debates, blog posts, articles, and books.  Marketing campaigns from publishers and professional developers flood our inboxes all claiming to have the answers for us in how we move forward with implementation.  Most of what I read and hear is focused on the “What” of the Common Core.  You’ve no doubt seen many of the same documents I have that summarize some of the big shifts full implementation of the Common Core will require.  Here are a few:
  • Independent reading and comprehension of increasingly complex texts
  • Emphasis on reading informational text
  • Significant focus on evidence-based questions and responses
  • Increased levels of complexity required in student thinking and responses (Webb’s DOK is huge here!)
  • Greater importance placed on writing – particularly on informational and argumentative writing
  • Integration between and among subjects with  literacy and technology being an integral part of ALL content areas
  • Integration of the eight mathematical practices and a clear focus on conceptual understanding and application
Last week I attended a session at a Literacy Institute Lead by Angela Peery where she reminded us about what we have learned from Simon Sinek in his book: Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.   She shared this great video with us: Why We Need Common Core: A Parody

We have been doing a lot of work in my district around the Common Core, but upon reflection, we have done a lot of the “What” and not nearly enough of the “Why”.  So here is a start on the list of “Why Common Core” – thank you Angela Peery and Achieve.org for some of these thoughts and data!
  • The US is declining in competitiveness with other developed countries
  • Colleges and universities report higher rates of remediation courses needed than ever before
  • College instructors and employers report over 40% of incoming students/workers are not prepared for college and work
  • The global economy is changing the nature of work and the kinds of jobs our young people will enter.
  • Jobs that once required a high school degree and paid a family-sustaining-wage and included retirement and health benefits are disappearing, and new jobs require more knowledge and skills than ever before.
  • Today, roughly two-thirds of all new jobs require some form of postsecondary education.
  • What it means to be literate in today’s global society is dramatically different
  • With all of the information coming at us, the ability to think critically, to question, to synthesize, analyze and apply information is crucial
  • Communication and collaboration skills are critical in today’s workplace
  • US students need to be college and career ready in a global world
  • Our students need to develop skills such as independence, perseverance, resiliency, and a sense of “agency”
As educational leaders, it is critical that we understand the why… the purpose… the rationale… behind the Common Core, and we must be able to communicate it effectively to our teams and our stakeholders.  Building commitment to the “why” will help ensure implementation of the “what”!

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it  – Simon Sinek

Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk here – thought-provoking!

2 thoughts on “Common Core: Let’s Talk “Why”, Not Just “What”

  1. I have to admit, I went straight to the video…and I was cracking up! I choose C! I’m looking around to do a think, pair share! Still giggling. Like Ricky Ricardo once said, “you have some ‘splainin to do”. We are going to have to break and elevate habits. In that case, I choose C! Haha

  2. As Marla mentioned, the first video definitely made me laugh, too! It also made me reflect about the critical role of the classroom teacher. The second video made think about the importance of clarity: really understanding the “why”, the purpose behind what we do as educators. Simon Sinek’s words were powerful: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” Thanks for sharing such a great post, everyone in SBUSD would definitely benefit from watching and reading your post.

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