Classes header, Demystifying the Common Core for Dance Educators, EdCloset

Our article today comes from guest author Typhani Harris, PhD.

Demystifying the Common Core for Dance Educators, EdClosetArtists abhor the term Common.  We seek to be innovative, ground breaking, and inventive.  We create, exasperate, and astound.  We push the envelope, jump out of the proverbial box, and hail unorthodox as our main mantra.   However, the truth is…Common Core is more common than you think, at least for us artists.  This is what we do, and what we do best.  We have been doing it all along.  The idea of synthesizing, applying, and creating are in our nature, our backbone, and our structure.  We are engaged in a broad spectrum of activities and we relate, practice, demonstrate, and create.  This is what we do!  So, when you think about it…we are Common Core…and we always have been.

Along with the inevitable educational paradigm shift to Common Core (which I like to think of as everyone else finally doing what dancers have been doing all along) are the multitude of attached acronyms …as if we didn’t have enough already! Here’s a quick rundown of the newly adopted acronyms for 21st century education:

Even with all of these new acronyms, my message remains plain and simple.  Dance educators!  Don’t fret over Common Core. We have been doing it all along.  My purpose here is to help guide our fellow educators to helping everyone else. Common Core and the new assessments are about understanding how to analyze and synthesize…not just regurgitate and reproduce.

So what does that mean for us in the arts?  It means supplementing our movement with information.  We can do this! It means reading with our students (meaningful excerpts that help them get the point) and it means helping our children to comprehend, and apply informational text to their daily lives.  So what’s “it”?  “It” can be so many things.  What are you teaching in class?  Traditional jazz, a codified modern technique, even checcetti ballet, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you are teaching lends the opportunity to read up on “it”.

Cue: Common Core Standards and Assessment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate the vernacular! As an artist and an arts educator I struggle with the word Common…as we pride ourselves on being far from Common.   However, I believe in the underlying principles of Common Core:

  • Depth not Breadth
  • Synthesizing not Recalling
  • Real life not Arbitrary
  • Inclusive not Exclusive
  • Extensive not Isolated

These are the foundations of the real world, and if we are preparing our students for life after high school then this is the axis.  After all, they certainly cannot answer a multiple choice test in an interview for today’s rigorous new jobs.

The CST’s (California Standards Test, the state in which I am based) provided assessment in isolation, an assessment of each subject independent of any additional subjects.  The Common Core provides assessment in collaboration; the ability to inclusively bring all subjects together for a Common goal.  I guess, if you put it that way, we are Common, we embrace Commonality, and we as artists promote the Common Core  ideology of collaboration.  Common is defined as joint, equal, shared by, and general.

As an artist, I don’t want to be joint, equal, shared by, or general to anyone. However, as an educator I believe that ALL students should have the opportunity to learn, ALL students should have multiple ways of demonstrating their knowledge, and ALL students should be prepared for the real-world.  And although Common Core doesn’t make that happen, it is certainly a step in the right direction of ensuring our students are prepared for their futures.

i Webb, N. L. (2005). Web alignment tool. Wisconsin Center of Educational Research, University of Wisconsin.