A common core

Now that school is back in full swing and homework is coming home regularly, parents (in)ability to help their children also returns. It’s not a new complaint, but in recent years a more direct target has emerged – Common Core. This school years first winner came from a father of two in the form of a check written out in what was described as ‘common core numbers’.

When I was in school I moved to a different state twice, between fifth and sixth grade and then between tenth and eleventh. In both cases I was academically off from my peers. In the first move I was ahead in math but behind in english. After the second move I was behind in both math and english. In theory common core would have prevented that.

It is my understanding that common core is less a curriculum than a set of measures. The goal being that every student in the country have the same core set of skills when they complete a given grade level. The humorous check and the fact that it went viral highlight the emotional and political impact of this policy, I’m going to stay away from that piece.

Instead I want you to think about a world where we all have the same core capabilities. With the use of technology, vision, hearing and memory could all be enhanced. Not just enhanced, but leveled. Kids wouldn’t have to learn the state capitals, the information would be pre-loaded in a memory chip implanted in their brain. What a cost savings for our education spending.

Savings sounds like a justification that governments could use to force technological implants. It’s less expensive to care for and educate people when they all have the same core capabilities. Thos in charge would make the claim that people will still be different based on how they use the common skills but embedded technology would level the playing field.

The truth is more sinister. In a world were we have fewer differences we are easier to control. There is less incentive to explore, try new things, or invent. If our experience is no different from the person next to us, what do we get from that experience?

Those that choose to have an original, non-enhanced experience in the world would be rogues. Their differences would make them dangerous. Strength would come from their weaknesses because they will work and struggle to adapt. They would not be tolerated.

We’re the sum of all our parts – strengths and weaknesses. If we all share a common core we add up to nearly the same thing. Instead of investing to make sure that every sixth grader has the same level of math skills, maybe we should invest in teaching them to adapt to their differences. Of course that would be more difficult to measure which means it would be tougher to justify the costs.

This is a story idea I have been working through for a while. There are so many different angles to take with it – thriller, romance and mystery. I see a dystopian world full of good people lulled into silence.

How would you see a world where we all share a common core?



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