I did a long-term sub assignment in San Luis Coastal school district in California a few years ago. I wrote about it in “Confessions of a 21st Century Math Teacher”.
I taught during the year in which California was in transition to the Common Core. We were told quite often that “next year would be different”. No more teacher in front of the class saying to open books to such and such page and do the following exercises. Teachers would facilitate learning, students would learn to “problem solve” and to “think” and “understand”. This assumed that the status quo was rote memorization and teaching without understanding or conceptual context.
The Superintendent of San Luis Coastal who was in charge then and still in charge today has a personal philosophy that aligns with the above bromides. He wrote about his personal philosophy at length here. An excerpt follows:
“I believe students in the 21st century are different. They are digital natives and live in a world where “any knowledge” can be found immediately on Google. Therefore, why regurgitate knowledge (like an “academic rationalist”) when it is far more reasonable to expect a student to apply this knowledge and to make new meaning from this knowledge. (This is my “cognitive processor” or “social reconstructionist” coming out.) Relevance is critical among this generation of students in order to motivate them to move beyond what I see as low-level thinking.”
His constructivist viewpoints are bolstered by the school district’s hiring policies which use the Danielson Framework for evaluating potential new teachers. The webpage for this framework states right at the beginning that “The Framework for Teaching is a research-based set of components of instruction, aligned to the INTASC standards, and grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching.” What then follows is a description of 22 components (and 76 smaller elements) of what they consider teaching.
This framework, coupled with the Superintendent’s philosophy lays the groundwork for hiring and firing. If you are an advocate of student-centered, inquiry-based, project/problem-based learning, c’mon in. Traditional type teachers need not apply.
If you wish to teach skills, they better be learning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Top-down, open-ended, ill-posed problems with many possible answers are preferable to the stuff that this particular cadre of educationists hate; i.e., distance/rate, work, mixture, and number problems. No relevance to what kids really care about.
To my knowledge there has been little to no parent, teacher, or student backlash in this school district. So it appears that everyone is happy in happy-land. That said, I refuse to teach there. Not that strong a statement considering what their response would likely be.