COMMON CORE MATH PRECLUDES BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
By Yvette Sutton
July 11, 2015
Dear Parents and Grandparents,
As we all know, Common Core is controversial and divisive. It pits parent against parent, parents against educators, teachers against “experts,” parents and teachers against elitist autocrats, parent and teachers against testing companies, parents against software giants, parents and teachers against Common Core advocacy organizations. The factions are many.
The issues being debated are serious with profound implications for America’s future. Is Common Core a new concept or just yet another name for the same goals, curriculum, assessments and remediation proposed repeatedly in a long line of initiatives over 25+ years? Is Common Core a national curriculum or merely a set of standards and benchmarks? Why is Common Core necessary? Will Common Core improve education or destroy any remnant of traditional academics? Will psychological remediation be performed on non-disabled students? The mystery and questions surrounding Common Core only mount as the debate skates around some of its more dangerous aspects.
There are documented answers for every question above, but, today, I am focusing on addressing how Common Core affects the student’s mind and, in particular, how Common Core Math prevents the young brain from developing properly. To begin, I offer parents and grandparents a peek inside the mind of humans to briefly recognize the varied functions of this marvelous gift from God. Most of us use the brain and mind interchangeably. “Johnny has a good mind,” we might comment. Sally says, “After I do Common Core math homework, my brain needs a rest.” Just as often, Grampy might say, “I’ve got to mull it over in my mind.” Are the brain and the mind the same entity? Do we “know” just through the brain alone or do we have many ways of “knowing?”
In 1980, while conducting research for a paper I was writing on Values Clarification, I ran across an article featured in the Teachers College Record, Columbia University. It explained the ways a human being has of “knowing.” I was intrigued so I called the editor at that time, Dr. Douglas Sloan. Over 100 scholars in every field had attended the symposium on “Knowledge, Education, and Human Values.”
Their main concern was with the modern attack on the mind, theories and methods of education that reduce the mental activities of the human being to the brain alone, denying and cutting off those activities of the mind, such as memory, intuition, insight, imagination, conscience, inspiration – those functions by which we know intrinsic qualities, absolute truths, God, for example.
Dr. Sloan advised me to beware of theories and processes that deny and cut off these functions of the mind, when what we really need in education are activities that exercise and expand the mind.
Knowledge, Education and Human Values: Toward the Recovery of Wholeness, Critical Issues Symposium Series, Charles F. Kettering Foundation. 1980.
One must ask if the national Common Core curriculum strengthens the functions of the mind. We know that a traditional, academic education does. It is the “disinterested” hot pursuit of the truth, an exciting, mind-expanding adventure. Can we all agree that memory is basic to history, geography, science, reading, spelling, music, art, literature and, of course, sports? (Have to be able to remember those plays that Coach calls.)
When I attended school some 50+ yrs. ago (yikes!), we were expected to think “outside of the box” every day. We had to use our imagination for original stories and poems. We were challenged to “picture” life in another country. Imagination helped put man on the moon! We couldn’t help but appreciate the imagination and that “light-bulb moment” of insight that propelled inventors and scientists. Teachers expected us to analyze historical events for fresh insight. We were in awe of the inspiration that enabled great artists, musicians and writers to create classical pieces and we were encouraged to search in unexpected places for inspiration for our own amateur efforts.
In our everyday world, people discussed “hunches,” or intuition, and we marveled when they were proven true. And let’s be honest, we all hated when our mom’s intuition told her we were up to no good. What usually followed was a moral lesson meant to develop a keen conscience, so we would stay on the right path going forward.
In the past, these functions of the mind were exercised every day, in school and out of class. That is, until psychological pedology invaded the classroom, emphasizing the private domain of the child’s feelings and emotions. Affective education simmered on a back burner from the establishment of the Department of Education in 1965, until psychologists and social engineers teamed up in the mid-70s to push affective education into taking a prominent role in the classroom. Gradually, students began to spend more and more time “on the couch” rather than at the desk. Academic learning was pushed aside in favor of “helping” the child’s social adjustment and enhancing his/her self-esteem. Exploring and treating the student’s psyche was more fun for student and teacher than academics.
For the sake of brevity, I am jumping over 40 years of education history, but know that with the federal and state governments’ initiatives and financial incentives, “experts” in psychology, sociology, education, health and labor experimented on our children and grandchildren to validate psychological curriculum, psychological assessments and psychological treatment, all without the parent’s knowledge or consent.
The Labor Department developed the SCANS (Secretary’s Commission On Achieving Necessary Skills), in April, 1992. The SCANS lists exactly what the student is supposed to master, know, be and do, including the personality traits. The SCANS is the force driving Common Core.
Functional Skills Needed for Effective Work Performance
I. Resource Management: Identifies, organizes, plans, and allocates resources
Time: Understands, follows, and prepares a schedule
B. Money: Prepares and follows a budget
C. Material: Allocates material resources
D. People: Allocates personnel resources
II. Information Management: Acquires and uses necessary information
Identifies, finds, and selects necessary information
B. Assimilates and integrates information from multiple sources
C. Represents, conveys, and communicates information to others effectively
D. Converts information from one form to another
E. Prepares, interprets, and maintains quantitative and nonquantitative records and information, including visual displays
III. Social Interaction
Participates as an effective member of a team
B. Facilitates group learning
C. Teaches others new skills
D. Serves clients/customers
E. Influences (informs, explains, persuades, convinces) an individual or group
F. Negotiates to arrive at a decision
G. Works well with all kinds of people
H. Understands how the social/organizational system works
IV. Systems Behavior and Performance
Understands how system components interact to achieve goals
B. Identifies, anticipates, and manages consequences
C. Monitors and corrects performance, identifies trends and anomalies
D. Links symbolic representations to real-world phenomena
E. Integrates multiple displays
V. Human and Technology Interaction
Selects and uses appropriate technologies
B. Visualizes operations and programs machines to perform work
C. Employs computers for input, presentation, and analysis
D. Troubleshoots and maintains technologies
E. Designs systems to perform complex tasks efficiently
Skills: Attitudes, motivation, and values (p.
All of the psychological methodologies used in the Common Core, SCANS classroom are front-loaded and students are manipulated to achieve the specific, pre-determined outcomes. Every child has to “get in the box” and stay there.
This curriculum, testing and treating and the process to achieve results is exactly what Dr. Sloan warned me about 35 years ago. Forget about the “disinterested” pursuit of the truth. Forget personal achievement. Forget exploring and developing individual talents. The pre-determined outcomes are group-oriented, leading to group thought and goals.
All of the above functions of the mind are obliterated. The student not only has to stay in the box, but he or she has to have the right attitude about growing up in a strait jacket.
The child is taught to the specified attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions; assessed for “doneness.” If not “done,” the child is psychologically treated for necessary adjustments of these goals and reassessed for “doneness.” This is repeated over and over until the child is “done” (the closed-loop, mind-numbing method).
Common Core produces cookie-cutter, SCANS creatures.
Of all of the functions of the mind, memory is the most difficult to destroy. In the November 23, 2014 issue of Parade Sunday Magazine, a reader asked Marilyn vos Savant, (Ask Marilyn) “Why can’t hypnosis be used to allow people to forget traumatic or painful memories?” Her response fascinated me.
Because memories are chemical, meaning that they have substance, however slight. (Otherwise they could not exist.) People who can be hypnotized…may respond to the suggestion to “forget” certain events…but this action simply prevents them from being able to recall the episodes. The memory itself still exists in their brains… Eliminating the physical matter of the memory is beyond the reach of hypnosis…By the way, when the suggestion to forget is withdrawn, all of the memories return, which is understandable. After all, they never left; they were just inaccessible. (p. 5)
Grandparents, do you remember all the rote memorization of math facts, spelling, history events and dates, poems, vocabulary, geography facts? We complained, at the time, not knowing - or appreciating! - that memory is the foundation and enabler of all these functions of the mind.
Until one of our relatives loses his or her memory, do any of us really appreciate our own memory function, or do we take it for granted? When an older patient is brought to the hospital, one of the first things medical personnel do is conduct what is essentially a test of the patient’s memory function by asking who the current president is; what is your birth date; in which city do you live? Without memory, the patient loses function.
The cold reality is that if the “experts” want to create a new child for a new society, they have to stop memory from developing properly in the first place.
Enter Common Core Math. No memory is needed or desired.
To appreciate the why of Common Core Math, one has to study - ever so abbreviated here - the value of traditional basic math.
As children learn basic arithmetic, they gradually switch from solving problems by counting on their fingers to pulling facts from memory…new brain-imaging research gives the first evidence drawn from a longitudinal study to explain how the brain reorganizes itself as children learn math facts. A precisely orchestrated group of brain changes, many involving the memory center known as the hippocampus, are essential to the transformation, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The results, published online Aug. 17, 2014 in Nature Neuroscience, explain brain reorganization during normal development of cognitive skills and will serve as a point of comparison for future studies of what goes awry in the brains of children with learning disabilities.
“We wanted to understand how children acquire new knowledge, and determine why some children learn to retrieve facts from memory better than others, “ said Vinod Menon, PhD, the Rachael L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and the senior author of the study. “This work provides insight into the dynamic changes that occur over the course of cognitive development in each child.”
The study also adds to prior research into the differences between how children’s and adults’ brains solve math problems. Children use certain brain regions, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, very differently from adults…..
“It was surprising to us that the hippocampal and prefrontal contributions to memory-based problem solving during childhood don’t look anything like what we would have expected for the adult brain, “ said postdoctoral scholar Shaozhen Qin, PhD, who is the paper’s lead author.
In the study, 28 children solved simple math problems while receiving two functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans; the scans were done about 1.2 years apart… At the start of the study, the children were ages 7-9…
During the study, as the children aged from an average of 8.2 to 9.4 years, they became faster and more accurate at solving math problems, and relied more on retrieving math facts from memory and less on counting. As these shifts in strategy took place, the researchers saw several changes in the children’s brains. The hippocampus, a region with many roles in shaping new memories, was activated more in children’s brains after one year. Regions involved in counting, including parts of the prefrontal and parietal cortex, were activated less.
The scientist also saw changes in the degree to which the hippocampus was connected to other parts of children’s brains, with several parts of the prefrontal, anterior temporal cortex and parietal cortex more strongly connected to the hippocampus after one year. Crucially, the stronger these connections, the greater was each individual child’s ability to retrieve math facts from memory….
“What this means is that the hippocampus is providing a scaffold for learning and consolidating facts into long-term memory in children,” said Menon…Children’s brains are building a schema for mathematical knowledge. The hippocampus helps support other parts of the brain as adult-like neural connections for solving math problems are being constructed.
By complicating simple math facts to the point that memorization is impossible, Common Core Math eliminates the opportunity for the Common Core child’s brain to develop normally. No scaffolding to higher math. Since simple math problems are what stimulated these areas of the brain, without traditional basic math, the brain centers of memory are not given the chance to progress. And memory lags.
To destroy the functions of the mind is menticide, the killing of the mind. That’s why I stand by my conclusion that Common Core produces cookie-cutter, SCANS creatures – namely, ant drones. Sen. Alexander and Rep. Kline are trying to transform schools into formicaries by passing ESEA Reauthorization, which will codify Common Core curriculum, assessment, psych-coding, reporting and psych-treatment (Response to Intervention) for every student.
The next time you come upon an ant colony, lie flat on your belly and look deep into that ant hill. Do you hear any ants protesting pay scale? I don’t. Do you see any art displayed or a science lab or a church or any books? Do you hear any poets singing their songs? All I ever see are busy, busy ant drones. If you step on a few, don’t worry; they are interchangeable. They just adjust and go on.
At this point, you might be thinking that you will make sure that art, good literature and music are added to the Common Core curriculum. But to what use? Eventually, as the functions of the mind are denied over and over in that closed loop process and memory is deliberately thwarted, students will not have the capacity to create anything.
If you want to scream, “Why? Why? Why?” - consider the words of Thomas B. Sticht, former Associate Director for Basic Skills of the National Institute of Education and one of the education leaders who joined industry leaders on the SCANS commission: (in the 80’s)
Many companies have moved operations to places with cheap, relatively poorly educated labor. What may be crucial, they say, is the dependability of a labor force and how well it can be managed and trained, not its general educational level, although a small cadre of highly educated creative people is essential to innovation and growth. Ending discrimination and changing values are probably more important than reading in moving low-income families into the middle class. (Congressional Record, 10/23/1989). (Emphasis mine)
The Layman’s Guide to OBE, by Dwight A. Williams, p. 11.
Note: Only students with the specified, collectivist attitudes, values, beliefs and dispositions will be selected for that “small cadre of highly educated creative people.” That independent thinker, Einstein, would not be selected. On the other hand, Hitler’s right-hand henchman, Himmler, the non-productive chicken farmer, would be selected.
In conclusion, social engineers of every discipline are trying to transform our society in to a collectivist society by restructuring the schools and producing a docile, compliant worker for industry. Fight for our children and grandchildren and for our country! Our children are not human capital. They are not putty to be shaped according to labor’s whims. They are not “mere creatures of the state.” Above all, they were not created as ants. How dare Sen. Alexander and Rep. Kline! Shame on them!
Sen. Alexander’s Student Success Act (passed out of Committee
+Rep. Kline’s HR 5 (no Committee Resolution yet)
ESEA Reauthorization = Common Core Codified = Legalized Menticide
best chance of stopping this run-away train is to derail it in the House!
CALL AND CALL CONGRESS! 202-224-3121
© 2015 Yvette Sutton – All Rights Reserved
Yvette attended Mount Carmel Academy, Wichita, KS, college prep, 1963, Mt. St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine University), Atchison, KS, B.A. in Sociology, Minors in Psychology and Home Economics; Undeclared Minors in Philosophy and Theology, 1966 Taught briefly at Notre Dame High School, DeKalb, IL, 1971 Established and directed day care center for migrant children for the state of IL, Rochelle, IL, 1971 Substituted K-12, Seminole Public Schools, Seminole, Ok, 1973-1975
I was substituting when Affective Education invaded the Seminole,
Ok schools in 1975. Did research and started my first parent activist
group there to fight the psychological programs being introduced
and to restore academics. 1979 - Atchison, Ks Discovered that Values
Clarification textbook and exercises were being used in the Catholic
grade schools. Organized a parents' group to get this secular humanist
agenda out of the school. Researched and co-authored a scholarly
paper on Values Clarification with two philosophy professors, 1980.
1988 - Wyomissing, Pa Joined the Parents' Rights of the Allentown
Diocese to fight Co-Ed Sex Education in the Catholic schools. Researched
and presented papers to various local groups 1989 - 1994 Fought
the Outcome Based Education movement. Researched and testified before
the State Senate and House.