….my personal appreciation for the pedagogy the Common Core outlines and the texts it strongly recommends is that it can bring us back to the vision of Horace Mann, the pioneer of our Common School movement. Mann’s major goal was training disciplined citizens. One of his key principles was that classrooms should pull together children from varied backgrounds, yet provide them with common understandings.
Mann aimed to establish schools with a common vision. The Common Core State Standards aim to help existing schools provide essential preparation for a diverse population. It is hoped that through a common experience with both literary and informational texts, students will gain insights and skills needed in order to rebuild the common foundations of our diverse society. Thus the recommended texts include key passages from Patrick Henry, George Washington, the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Learned Hand, Margaret Chase Smith, and Ronald Reagan. All of these help us think beyond ourselves to engage a grand social experiment.
In his Experiment in Criticism, C. S. Lewis argued that “the necessary condition of all good reading is ‘to get ourselves out of the way.’ ” We get out of the way of the text when we read it closely for what it has to offer. The Common Core Standards encourage such close reading. We get out of the way when we check our own interpretations in constructive dialogue with others. The Common Core Standards call for publishers to produce materials that “provide opportunities for students to participate in real, substantive discussions that require them to respond directly to the ideas of their peers.”