Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Common Core, Location and the Best Interest of Your Children

09 August 2013

Earlier this week I sat amongst our legislators in the large, comfy swivels chairs in the Senate Chambers listening to testimony about Common Core. The interim study committee on Common Core met for the first of three sessions to decide if it will recommend that Indiana adopt the Common Core standards for student achievement in Indiana.

While the purported intent of Common Core is to elevate student achievement throughout the United States by implementing the standards common to the countries with the highest student achievement – those in the Pacific Rim – no such common curriculum exist. The Common Core standards that have been established and adopted by 46 other states fall short of those of those of the successful Pacific Rim countries. Even if Indiana adopted the Common Core standards and even if the standards were consistent with those of the highest achieving students we would still not meet the level of achievement attained by those along the Pacific Rim. There is one underlying reason for this which in the most basic form is well known to realtors – location, location, location.

I live in a location that stands in stark contrast to that of the Pacific Rim. It's not noticed only by me. When my son, Therin, arrived for the summer this year we met near Butler University and eventually rode our bikes from there through Carmel, Zionsville, Whitestown and then arriving in Lebanon. Therin quickly pronounced that the people in Lebanon are slow – mentally. It's the same observation that I make on a regular basis just as I did after riding to Zionsville on Tuesday. As soon as I passed the Whitestown exit just south of Lebanon I noticed it. When I relayed the story of Therin's observation to my sister – a Chicago area resident – she immediately responded by saying that every time she comes down to Indy she notices it as soon as she passes Lafayette. Lebanon, Indiana and the immediate surrounding area is a dearth of human intellect and cognitive functioning on a massive scale. It's not from a lack of resources or opportunity though.

Lebanon, Indiana has a sufficient public school system, an extensive public library and ample internet access. So why are the residents only exceeded by nearby Thorntown when it comes to deficiencies in intelligence and brain functioning? The answer is location just as the realtors harken but not based upon any geological factors.

The reason is a human factor. Separate identical twin children born in contemporary Lebanon or Thorntown by moving one to the Pacific Rim and leaving the other to be reared here. I guarantee that the child raised in Asia as a reflection of the norm of both communities will be more intelligent and have higher cognitive functioning. In short, the child raised in Asia will have a brain hardwired in a superior manner to his sibling left behind. This is because children learn through observation - their environment is the passive teacher.

This is what proponents of Common Core have failed to observe or realize. Intelligence and cognitive functioning are not hereditary traits waiting to be released through training consistent with a rigorous standard. Instead these have a hereditary foundation but are developed environmentally. The environment in the Pacific rim is one of the pursuit of knowledge, learning and personal development. This is contrasted by the Homer Simpson environment of the other Boone County – the area outside of Zionsville.

The families that I know in those countries or who have immigrated here reflect the culture of learning and personal improvement that lead to their intellectual supremacy. From a child development perspective it is stimulation. Stimulation that comes from exposure to situations that challenge the higher level functioning of the developing brain as well as inducing logical thought processes.

So as a parent – especially one engaged in a custody dispute – it is not enough to select a location, school system or interactive toy. What will serve the best interest of your children is providing a safe, secure, enriching environment that fosters intellectual exploration and cognitive development. Some communities make that readily available while others make providing these necessities more of a challenge.

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©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

StuartShowalter.com ©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.