I Am Not a Monkey: The Students the Common Core Forgets

Ask anyone who knows me, I’m smart. I apply myself, and until recently, have achieved highly in school. I have a high IQ and have already developed a new form of math I have dubbed multi-dimensional calculus. But who am I? I am the one the common core forgets. Now you may think, how am I forgotten? Well, my reading and writing skills developed slowly. In 1st grade, I really didn’t understand how people were able to read these mess of letters that danced around the page, moving, changing, and switching around on me.

I couldn’t keep track of it. I was later diagnosed in 2nd grade with ADHD, dyslexia, deficit executive orders, and a pre-school reading level. It was debated what to do with me, because though I was falling behind in the reading and writing aspect, I was excelling with math and science, being taught the algebra basics by my dad in 1st grade. With many hours of hard work and encouragement, by fourth grade, I had reached a ninth grade reading level, and by sixth, a college reading level. So what if I was put into the common core system at that age? I wouldn’t be as good as I am today.

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The fast pace of the core means I would’ve had to keep up, or be left behind, discouraged, and lose faith in myself at a young age. It was the teachers encouraging me to take my time and try different ways of reading it, that allowed me to finally get where I needed to be. My teachers would sit down with me one on one and give me different tools and techniques I could use until I finally figured out what worked best. Being left behind at the age would not have given me the support and confidence I would have needed to be able to get where I am today. I write this not for me, but for those kids like me who’ll be suffering years to come.

Those who have special needs will have to take the same test as the others, due to a lack of an equivalency test. Others with problems like me, who in the right environment could succeed beyond the expectations of any kid with an equivalent age. Think about it like this, say that there are 3 students: an elephant, a fish, and a monkey. If these students are tested on climbing to the top of the tree, who has the advantage? The monkey. If the elephant and fish were put into the right environments, they too could succeed. You can’t test a fish or an elephant by telling them to climb a tree, they aren’t monkeys.

As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We need to apply this to our schooling. Some kids do better when tested orally, others are better at explaining it like they are teaching it to someone, others are better using drawings, charts, graphs, and metaphors/similes, yet other are better at multiple choice tests. The common core tests only benefit those who do better with multiple choice.

This also goes into learning. We don’t all learn the same way. Some learn by visual representations, others by stories, and so on. Why are we trying to teach them all the same way though? How does a fast pace environment that only benefits one type of learner going to make the education system any better? All it causes is higher rates depression in teenagers striving to do better and just can’t because of the way they are being taught, which in the long run will cause higher suicide rates. There’s a kid I know struggling in school, barely able to accomplish C’s let alone A’s.

I asked this kid if I could borrow his notebook to copy the notes from when I was absent. When I got home, and was looking through his notebook, I found a page where he figured out derivatives and integrals all on his own. I asked him the next day about it and he told me he figured it out in 7th grade after his teacher had explained slope to him. He should me his other stuff, too. He had, on his own, applied this to physics and was realized it was acceleration and velocity, position, etc.

This kid was failing math though. What are we supposed to do if the kids of today are being Held to standards that only some can achieve in the way that it’s being presented to them? About 45 states have already adopted these standards, and more are to come. While the Monkey’s succeed, the rest of them, like the elephants and the fish, are subject to failure if they can’t figure out a way to adapt. We are the students that the Common Core Forgets.