Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where Ask Is Have

That meaningful conversation about the Common Core Standards I was asking for?

Here it is, by Freddy Hiebert, of TextProject and the University of California at Santa Cruz, in her blog Frankly Freddy:
Acquiring knowledge is the raison d’etre of the Common Core. In the digital-global world, the “haves” are the ones who have knowledge and know how to acquire more knowledge. When you know something, you can build on this knowledge and in this way knowledge grows. Knowledge begets knowledge. The “have nots” are the ones who depend on others to filter their knowledge through talk radio, television shows, and conversation. (Hiebert, 2012)
The problem with the latter is obvious, for the boredom factor if nothing else: all those recycled opinions with no facts to back them up. The more you learn, the more you're curious about, the more you want to learn.

And so early access (or obstacles) to knowledge can change a kid's destiny:
In one sense the economic forces that have improved the lives of all minorities in America make the educational disparities more dire. The economy has become and is likely to remain “knowledge- driven”; making a living increasingly requires most individuals, regardless of race or gender, not only to pursue higher education, but to draw fully upon its resources to develop the kind of skills needed to compete and thrive in the job market (Hershberg, 1998; Murnane & Levy, 1997). Individuals unable to attend or finish college are, more than ever, at risk of being left behind (Fullilove & Treisman, 1990). The apparent irreversibility of the knowledge-driven economy underscores the importance of addressing the per- sistent underachievement of underrepresented minority stu- dents at all levels of schooling. (Fried et al, 2001)

At our house, we're constantly looking things up. Last night, we were walking the dog in the canyon. It was a starry night, and so we were talking about the stars, and the names of the constellations, and how these came from myth, and how none of us knew the real story of Cassiopeia. When we got home, we looked it up.

We look up ridiculous things, too. Yesterday morning, we were reading the New York Times online, and saw the great video by Bill Cunningham about shoes, and got interested in Fashion Week in New York, and looked it up.

Another night, the dog and I were walking with my youngest-by-five-minutes daughter, and she was telling me she wasn't good at English and writing.
Me: But you scored in the advanced category of the STAR test. You must know something.
Daughter the Second: I guessed. I don't understand it.
(Not that I believe that a test score is the final determination of what a kid knows or doesn't know; it is, as everyone in the industry agrees, merely a snapshot of student performance at a point in time. But I did think the score was a piece of data that I could use to bolster my argument.)

Then we agreed that for both of us, even if we know something about something, we don't feel like we really get it unless we have a thorough understanding of how it works.

We talked about it more. I told her the 7% story. I asked her if she felt she lacked the capacity to understand English and writing, if her brain worked in some way that prevented her from understanding it. She thought about that for a second, and then said, no, she probably could learn it.

Which brought us to talking about how so much information is available now, and which brings me to a favorite poem by Christopher Smart, "A Song to David":

A Song to David

   Sweet is the dew that falls betimes,
And drops upon the leafy limes;
      Sweet Hermon's fragrant air:
Sweet is the lily's silver bell,
And sweet the wakeful tapers smell
      That watch for early pray'r.

   Sweet the young nurse with love intense,
Which smiles o'er sleeping innocence;
      Sweet when the lost arrive:
Sweet the musician's ardour beats,
While his vague mind's in quest of sweets,
      The choicest flow'rs to hive.

   Sweeter in all the strains of love,
The language of thy turtle dove,
      Pair'd to thy swelling chord;
Sweeter with ev'ry grace endu'd,
The glory of thy gratitude,
      Respir'd unto the Lord.

   Strong is the horse upon his speed;
Strong in pursuit the rapid glede,
      Which makes at once his game:
Strong the tall ostrich on the ground;
Strong thro' the turbulent profound
      Shoots xiphias to his aim.

   Strong is the lion—like a coal
His eye-ball—like a bastion's mole
      His chest against the foes:
Strong, the gier-eagle on his sail,
Strong against tide, th' enormous whale
      Emerges as he goes.

   But stronger still, in earth and air,
And in the sea, the man of pray'r;
      And far beneath the tide;
And in the seat to faith assign'd,
Where ask is have, where seek is find,
Where knock is open wide.

   Beauteous the fleet before the gale;
Beauteous the multitudes in mail,
      Rank'd arms and crested heads:
Beauteous the garden's umbrage mild,
Walk, water, meditated wild,
      And all the bloomy beds.

   Beauteous the moon full on the lawn;
And beauteous, when the veil's withdrawn,
      The virgin to her spouse:
Beauteous the temple deck'd and fill'd,
When to the heav'n of heav'ns they build
      Their heart-directed vows.

   Beauteous, yea beauteous more than these,
The shepherd king upon his knees,
      For his momentous trust;
With wish of infinite conceit,
For man, beast, mute, the small and great,
      And prostrate dust to dust.

   Precious the bounteous widow's mite;
And precious, for extreme delight,
      The largess from the churl:
Precious the ruby's blushing blaze,
And alba's blest imperial rays,
      And pure cerulean pearl.

   Precious the penitential tear;
And precious is the sigh sincere,
      Acceptable to God:
And precious are the winning flow'rs,
In gladsome Israel's feast of bow'rs,
      Bound on the hallow'd sod.

   More precious that diviner part
Of David, ev'n the Lord's own heart,
      Great, beautiful, and new:
In all things where it was intent,
In all extremes, in each event,
      Proof—answ'ring true to true.

   Glorious the sun in mid career;
Glorious th' assembled fires appear;
      Glorious the comet's train:
Glorious the trumpet and alarm;
Glorious th' almighty stretch'd-out arm;
      Glorious th' enraptur'd main:

   Glorious the northern lights a-stream;
Glorious the song, when God's the theme;
      Glorious the thunder's roar:
Glorious hosanna from the den;
Glorious the catholic amen;
      Glorious the martyr's gore:

   Glorious—more glorious is the crown
Of Him that brought salvation down
      By meekness, call'd thy Son;
Thou that stupendous truth believ'd,
And now the matchless deed's achiev'd,
      Determin'd, dar'd, and done.

Aronson, J., Fried, C. and Good, C. (2001). Reducing the effects of negative stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Hiebert, Elfrieda. (2012). It's not just informational text that shapes knowledge acquisition; the critical role of narrative text in the Common Core State Standards. Text Project.
Smart, Christopher. A song to David. Poetry Foundation.

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