A concerned grandfather in Indiana has been in contact with us about the Common Core aligned homework sent home with his grandchildren.  We wrote about his concerns last month and he shares another story with us about Math problems.

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Hi Gretchen.  Had to share this one with you.  You know we have the grandkids and our granddaughter  is in third grade.  The school uses  Common Core aligned Math even though Indiana rejected the Common Core standards.  So now they’re in multiplication and she brings home homework (marked ‘Pearson’ at the bottom of the work sheet) where she’s supposed to write “Multiplication stories”.  Yeah.  And then she’s given a problem, remember this is Multiplication, where she’s supposed to draw a picture.  Here’s how it read:

Hot dog buns come in packages of 8.  Mrs. Wilson has a total of 40 hot dog buns.  Draw a picture to find out how many packages of hot dog buns Mrs. Wilson has.

So she spends about 3  or four minutes drawing little circles in groups of eight and then circles each group of eight. So I ask her, “Okay, how many packages does she have?”  And she looks at me like, “What do you mean? I just spent all this time drawing pictures.”  So I say “Go back and read the question. Mrs. Wilson has packages of hot dog buns.  How many packages does she have?”  And she looks at it and says “Like, 40?”

So I showed her what she had done and how she had circled five groups of eight so there were five packages.  She told me she had all these math problems to do at school and there wasn’t enough time to do them all and how they couldn’t just give the answer they had to write stories.  I sympathized with her and told her to do her best, but to try to memorize her multiplication tables (which I had previously introduced her to) and make sure she knew how to get the correct answer.

But back to the problem above: it is obviously a DIVISION problem.  I showed her how if you took forty and divided it into groups of eight to get five groups it was DIVISION, which is the opposite of Multiplication.  And I told her if she knew her Multiplication, as in 8×5=40, then it would help her when she gets to division.

The geniuses telling the folks that kids are going to be able to save the world because they’re going to have this deep understanding of Math because they spend so much time illustrating the concepts and writing essays on each individual problem apparently are not challenged on the fact that the person who simply writes 40 divided by 8=5 is the one who then has time left to save the world.  His classmates are still doodling and working on their prose.  As many of your articles have pointed out, this Common Core aligned Math is completely counter-intuitive to the “Real World”.

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Do you want to hear the ‘thought leaders’ who support Common Core standards?   You can access recordings of the ‘thought leaders’ here on Pearson’s page.  This one should be a particularly interesting listening experience:

If this is indeed true, then why is Pearson providing Common Core aligned curriculum that grandparents, parents and children find obtuse and time consuming?  Is there other curriculum aligning with ‘traditional math’ and Common Core state standards?  Does it exist?  All the stories I’ve been reading about the standards and curriculum schools are using don’t point to alternative curriculum that will align to the assessments and standards.  If the Pearson curriculum actually aligns to the standards, is the argument that ‘it’s not the fault of the standards; it’s the implementation’ a faulty one?  How would the ‘thought leaders’ would answer that question?

The standards are designed to tell students/teachers where to go and the curriculum (we’ve been told repeatedly) is ‘how to get there’.  Pearson designs ‘common core aligned’ curriculum and the grandfather’s story is from Pearson math.  Is this is a case to not use Pearson curriculum as Wiggins has suggested the curriculum used by many schools is inappropriate?  What are the other choices?

Here is a side thought: under what authority do the authors of the Common Core Standards decree ‘standards are not the curriculum’?  Are they the new national ‘State Board of Education’ members for all the states participating in the Initiative?  Why are states even taking directives from the self-appointed CCSS authors and thought leaders?   Who decides what curriculum is ‘sound’?  If the curriculum doesn’t align to the standards (which have been set by the CCSS authors) and has been deemed inappropriate by the ‘thought leaders’, then this seems like an exercise in futility if a district wants to exercise local control.  This is not how representative government is structured.

Published November 8, 2014

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