Reading incomprehension

As a former teacher with a master’s degree, Laurie Levy thought she’d be able to help her seven-year-old granddaughter with her first-grade reading homework, she writes in Reading Incomprehension. But it’s a new Common Core world.

My granddaughter read a non-fiction passage about the moon from her McGraw-Hill reader, Wonders. The homework was a series of reading comprehension questions laid out in boxes labeled “cause” and “effect.” . . . She had to shorten her answers to fit the boxes.

When I tried to see if she truly comprehended the reading about why the moon waxes and wanes and how astronauts landed on the moon, she admonished me. “No, Grandma,” she said. “We just look for a sentence in the book and copy it exactly.”

After reading a fable about How The Bat Got His Wings, her granddaughter divided the story into firstnextthen, and last“Sequencing . . . did not show me that she truly comprehended the story,” writes Levy.

Levy “tried to relate the fable to her life,” but the seven-year-old would have none of it. “What you are saying is not in the story,” the granddaughter said.

Not everything that claims to be Core-aligned really is, but the “in the story” stuff is a Common Core imperative.

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  1. “In spite of the fact that schools exist for the sake of education, there is many a school whose pupils show a peculiar “school helplessness”; that is, they are capable of less initiative in connection with their school tasks than they commonly exhibit in the accomplishment of other tasks. ”

    That quote is from a book published 105 years ago. We aren’t getting any better as schooling. There is a strong argument that we are getting worse with examples such a the one in this post.

  2. I fail to see how having a 7 year old summarize a story, sequentially, is in any way bad. This is exactly the type of work that is part of classical education at the primary level. Expecting a 7 year old to have some great insight into relating a story to his/her own life is not a reasonable expectation. One person’s perceived negative experience with their grandkid is not evidence that Common Core is ruining education.

    • If a child reads a book about the phases of the moon and has not learned anything about the moon’s phases and why they happen, then understanding/learning has not happened – regardless of how “correctly” she has answered the questions. If answering the questions correctly does not reflect actual understanding of the text, then the questions need to be changed. One reads non-fiction to learn new things, no?

    • “Levy “tried to relate the fable to her life,” but the seven-year-old would have none of it. “What you are saying is not in the story,” the granddaughter said.”

      Great insight? No. But as the quote above, the child has been conditioned not to THINK about what they’ve written. Not to supplement the ideas with other information, nor judge the soundness and general worth. Not to be curious nor skeptical about the information provided.

      Instead, the child is being conditioned for thoughtless regurgitation rather than incorporating ideas to grow their education. In short, her schooling is interfering with her education.