Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Rigorous" Common Core Module: Nasreen's Secret School

We want to highlight one of the new Common Core modules for 3rd graders.  It is taken from the EngageNY website which is a resource for teachers here in Arizona. 

One of the text used for this particular module is called "Nasreen's Secret School."  It is a story about a young girl from Afghanistan whose parents have been taken away by the Taliban so she went to live with her Grandparents. 

Vocabulary for this module include words such as "Taliban" and "Allah."

One of the reviews for the book states:

"The grandmother hears of a secret school for girls and she brings her grand-daughter to the school, praying to Allah that she will find something there to help her bloom again.

The soldiers come to the school once, but the girls outwit them, says the grandmother, by hiding their forbidden schoolbooks and reading the Koran by the time the soldier comes....Is this too much for a young child? Parents must, as always, make that determination based on knowledge of their own children. My personal view is that young children do not bring to books the background knowledge and experience that adults do, and thus they will not find the book as frightening and disturbing as their parents do. We know that in all likelihood Nasreen's parents have been executed, but the book never says so, and small children do not have the historical knowledge and understanding that would make this clear to them."

As you thumb through the book, you will find drawings of Nasreen's father being taken away by the Taliban with his hands bound with rope.  Another picture shows Nasreen kneeling in prayer with a look of fear on her face as a Taliban stands over her with a gun.  And then you will see pictures such as this one:

This, mind you, is considered "internationally benchmarked" and "rigorous" for 7 and 8 year olds.

This, however, is not.