Frustration: to balk or defeat in an endeavor; to induce feelings of discouragement, to make ineffectual: bring to nothing. To impede, obstruct or to make invalid or of no effect
My right arm has been in a cast since the morning of July 7th when I tripped on my front step and clumsily crashed onto the pavement. Being right-handed, this restriction on almost every little detail of daily life has been, to put it mildly, frustrating and often humiliating.
Lucky for me, this shall pass. In a few weeks the cast will come off and I’ll begin physical therapy. I’m hoping that my physical therapist will be endowed with a wealth of patience. I know from past experience that I am no “jock” and that my body does not bounce back quickly. I hope the physical therapist will work with me on my own playing ground. I hope that I don’t experience feelings of humiliation and failure by not meeting a generically expected timeline on my road to recovery.
My experience makes me think of young children and the Common Core Standards. Should each kindergarten child be expected to “Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.” by the end of the school year?
What of the children who have different styles and rates of learning? Might we be creating an environment that leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety for many children when we set a time-line, complete with a numerical rating of 1,2,3 and 4, for meeting standards that can be developmentally inappropriate expectations for all children to meet at the same time?
Don’t we want children (and adults going through physical therapy!) to feel supported and believed in? Isn’t it important that we let children, and their parents, know that we have confidence that they will “Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding” and “Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words” but not necessarily by a given date that has been selected by a group of people they have never met and who know nothing about each child’s particular likes, dislikes, strengths and challenges?
I know that, with time, practice, the support and encouragement of friends and family and the guidance of a patient, trained physical therapist, my hand will get strong again. It might take six months, a year or perhaps longer. But the diagnoses and expectation is that there will eventually be recovery.
Don’t we need to have similar expectations for children? We can and should have the high standards for children presented in the Common Core Standards without turning education away from the exciting challenge that it can be and into the frustrating race that it has become!