# An Engineer Discovers 3rd Grade Common Core Aligned Math. But What Does He Know? Not Much.

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The above graphic is from a website which goes beyond traditional math and supports reform math aka math aligned to Common Core standards. It states:

There are a few important things to note. Number one, the amount of attention “New Math” and “Common Core Math” has received in the media has been non stop and very negative. This leads to parents feeling frustrated with schools for not communicating this new shift in mathematical thinking. In some ways, this is a failure on our school system, but in other ways it is a lesson to not always believe everything we read/see in the media. Much of the information out there is false. For example, many parents ask me, “Why don’t you just teach the traditional algorithm?” We do teach it, but we teach a whole lot of understanding before introducing it so they don’t have to memorize a meaningless set of procedures. Luckily this father is open minded since he did not have a great experience with math himself as a child, and he wants to do his best to learn along with his child.

The other thing that is so common when parents are frustrated with Common Core Math, is that they haven’t been taught to think of math as a problem to solve, as a puzzle. Instead they look at it from the angle that there must be only one way. How can you blame them when they were taught math this way? It isn’t their job to learn this new shift in thinking without any support from us. We all go back to what we know, and what they know is that they were taught to memorize. This same attitude is common for children in their math classes as well because teachers are trying to shift to deeper thinking activities for our students. (Sadly, math curriculum/textbook companies in the U.S. is not there yet.) This is a HUGE shift that will take time!

Takeaway:

- The valid concerns about math instruction and the lack of research/data confirming this will raise math scores is seen as ‘very negative’. There is no answer to these concerns except…..
- The problem with parental frustration is a problem in
*communication,*not in the*shift in mathematical thinking*and the straw man argument…. - Don’t believe everything we read/see in the media
*(except for the Gates funded PR messages)*because*much*out there is false*(implying that opposition is without merit)* - Traditional algorithms are taught but it’s important to
*understand*it first…. - If parents are frustrated with CCSS Math, it’s a
*problem*on their part, not the math thinking and instruction and implementation of NGO assessments - Parents are an impediment to those teachers who were taught in professional development classes to reject the ‘old’ math and well, parents are just in the way as the
*shift to deeper thinking activities*are instituted - And oh, it’s not the teacher’s fault either. It’s the
*math curriculum/textbook companies*fault that a nationalized system of teaching math isn’t working very well

It also wants parents to * keep on advocating for you and your child. We need to know if you don’t understand, and we can all make math meaningful if we learn together. What other positive messages would you like to tell parents so that we can work together?*

Dissecting that parting message: the advocating encouraged in the last paragraph is *we need you to join the math reform train and if parents don’t understand, it is incumbent on the parents to hop to learn this math. Don’t leave the village! *That’s not really *advocating *for your child. That’s squelching dissent on your disagreement on how math should be presented for different learning styles in students and halting any real conversation on how this math is developmentally inappropriate. The *positive message* to tell other parents is implicit: we must *work together *meaning there is no other method/thinking allowed.

How many parents have heard the school bureaucrats/teachers tell you that they want you to advocate for your child? When you actually advocate for what **you **believe is positively advocating for what your child needs, if it doesn’t align with the school’s/teacher’s/NGO’s pre-determined curriculum/pedagogy, you are most likely marginalized and your ideas are opposed. Have you asked your school about opting your child out of unvalidated assessments or surveys to determine attitudes, behaviors and beliefs? How were you received?

Here is a tale from real life on how math aligned to Common Core plays is experienced by a real person in private industry who used Math every day in his job. Reprinted with permission from a teacher mom:

Little story. My parents are visiting from another state. My dad is a retired engineer from a major car manufacturing company with a MA in International Business and Engineering. He has traveled to China, Mexico, etc. to work on vehicle designs and testing. He also taught math after he retired. So, he is no stranger to math…oh so he thought. <insert evil laugh> He was helping my 9 year old do her 3rd grade math. I came upstairs to him sitting and with his arms crossed looking a little perturbed.

Me: What’s up?

Dad: Well, I am now anti-common core.

Me: Oh ya, why’s that? (LOL)

Dad: what the h*ll kind of math tricks are they teaching these kids? My granddaughter sat there for fifteen minutes trying to do ten division problems and she was struggling. So I showed her how to do them. The way they have them set up, she had no clue. I showed her the way we all learned it, then how to check your answer. She nailed fifty problems out in ten minutes, no joke. Oh and why the heck are they giving 100 problems to a 9 yr old to do?

Me: I’m not so crazy now am I?

Dad: nope…I get it. It’s too much, that’s too much for them to process.

**UPDATE: Papa has just gone over a math test and came totally unglued. * 😂* he’s ready to go to the school board because he said, “I got every d%^m answer wrong. They do not provide rhyme or reason nor logic to these questions to have the kid come up with the correct answer!

Me: Welcome to my world dad, welcome to my world.

For more reading on the folly of reform math read here. In the meantime, we’ll keep in touch with the mom to determine how her father will be received at his school board meeting. The board will urge him to advocate for students until the members are challenged on the school’s curriculum/pedagogy. They will probably then attempt to marginalize him for his ridiculous views about math, even as he was an engineer by training and a math teacher in retirement. They will send him to the a website or school sponsored meetings which will help him learn Math and how to make *meaningful *for all, grandparents too! Get your ticket and get on board! Otherwise, go away and put your tin foil hat on for Easter.

Yes, *welcome to the world of Common Core.*

Sharing.

I couldn’t agree more. There is so much BS put forth to promote and defend Common Core. As a retired elementary teacher (successfully integrated so called “new math” into teaching back in the 60s through 90s) I know how some of the ideas in CC can be used at appropriate grade levels for specific enhancement. However, there is no substitute for rote memorization of facts and traditional algorithms for first learning how – just as we learn alphabet and sounds, or how to take a step before running etc. My own eight children (all college graduates with advanced degrees)learned the traditional way. Three of them and two of their spouses are teachers (and disagree with CC). Five of my eighteen grandchildren are presently enrolled in college; two of those have switched from their initial enrollment as education majors. Politicians and mercenary big business interests are trying to destroy public education in their greed. Unfortunately, high level educational administrators in their ivory towers play into all this baloney.

Sadly, your way of thinking has put everyone into a box. America is basically last place in math in the world. The problem with memorizing is people always forget. If we don’t change things we will keep putting out less and less engineers and scientists. Less mathmeticians. The main reason parents don’t understand common core is they do t understand math and have no higher math skills beyond hs math. In addition,it’s been years since their brains have done math they forget it all. Their brains forget to think that way. I went back to school as an adult and got my engineering degree. I started at basic math. After finally completing differential equations I can tell my brain changed the way it thought, computed, seen the world, and how I tackled problems. Unless we move forward we will always be the nation of idiots who suck at math.

When attempting to discuss the common core math with my daughter’s teacher (for whom I was room mom), she turned her back on me as she said “as long as Georgia says that’s the way I have to teach it, that’s the way I’m teaching it.” To say I was shell shocked at this attitude and unprofessional behavior is an understatement.

If some lonesome alien just floated into this nation … and had only the Common Core pronouncements as a guide … they’d immediately assume that they were now stuck in some bottom-of-the-barrel country populated by a species that was about an inch beyond bacteria on the evolutionary scale.

This is their tiresome ploy. Failure is all around … and we’re all too, too oblivious to see all of this with our very own eyes … because near-bacteria hasn’t that sort of sophistication. If all of this were true, we’d all be packing our trunks and marching off to blissful lives in Guatemala or Mali or Nepal. I guess we’re too stupid to even move. That must be it, right?

What’s so stunning to me is the fact that so many of us are still here … and that our miserable, failing nation is the most desired destination on the planet. All of which begs certain questions that are never, ever addressed by the Common Core corps.

Here’s the real mystery … How has America maintained its premier economic circumstances when we are populated by such uneducated dolts? How is that this nation is ground zero for all sorts of medical innovations … and that people from the Arab world and Asia and Europe zoom here for medical treatment? Oh! And why are our universities the most desired in the world? And can they explain the happy accident why we have the best standard of living the world has ever experienced? Help me out here, will ya?

How is it that our military is the most technologically advanced? And what explains the fact that we produce enough food-stuffs to feed ourselves … and vast portions of the world? I’m stumped why we’re the first to offer emergency services when disaster strikes around the globe … and folks seem numb to the USA insignia on replacement equipment, food, and supplies. Did I fail to mention the doctors, engineers, and EMT professionals we send as well?

That’s a lot of very dumb folks doing some miraculous things.

Now, to our schools. Something’s wrong, alright. Our schools don’t behave according to the Common Core observations. Our public school faculties are some of the most credentialed on the planet.These public schools lay the foundation that has made America the most recognized Nobel prize producing nation of all-time. No country has ever been so inventive as America. None. We lead in medical inventions and innovations … the same for computer technologies … as well as for mechanical innovations of all sorts. Man, those dumb Americans are the luckiest folks the world’s ever seen!

These failing public schools have produced world-renown playwrights, artists, actors, musicians, vocalists, and authors of all sorts. These dreadful public schools have given rise to admired engineers and architects and urban planners. They’ve yielded ship designers and astronauts … and the vessels they use to speed around space. We accidentally put men on the moon and recently bumped into Pluto. Ooops! Hope that mistake doesn’t happen again! … some folks will be very embarrassed.

I hate to mention our political maturity, but I have to. I know we’re supposed to be extremely basic thinkers according to those gifted Common Core pushers, but what explains the relative historical, non-violent political experience in America? We don’t lop off the noggins of lousy rulers. We don’t have a coup every other full moon. And we have dozens of nations world-wide that have modeled themselves after our political foundations. We’d better call them with the bad news that we’re not worth emulating. We’re failures.

Apologies for the over-the-top sarcasm, but lots and lots of very fine people have had their reputations battered by these frauds who premise that American schools are huge disasters. It’s time to get in their faces …

It’s ironic that even these asinine Common Core zealots cannot give credit to the very experience that allowed their fertile minds to crank out such a creative and embellishing litany of lies. What ungrateful failures!

Denis Ian..

Author!

The Common Core is predated by math reform ideas; CC is the gasoline on that math reform fire. Math reform has pushed the idea that math must be “taught with understanding” and in doing so, mischaracterizes traditionally taught math as “rote memorization” without understanding. Common Core accentuates these ideas. On its web site it talks about the “instructional shifts” necessary to teach math under the CC standards. For example there is “coherence” It states:

“Coherence: Linking topics and thinking across grades

“Mathematics is not a list of disconnected topics, tricks, or mnemonics; it is a coherent body of knowledge made up of interconnected concepts. Therefore, the standards are designed around coherent progressions from grade to grade. Learning is carefully connected across grades so that students can build new understanding onto foundations built in previous years. For example, in 4thgrade, students must “apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction by a whole number” (Standard 4.NF.4). This extends to 5th grade, when students are expected to build on that skill to “apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction or whole number by a fraction” (Standard 5.NF.4). Each standard is not a new event, but an extension of previous learning.”

Why is this considered a change or shift in instruction? The implication is that math has been taught as a list of disconnected topics. Ironically, during the last 25 years, that is partly true due to math reform ideas!! Look at Everyday Math with its spiraling approach to teaching, and kids getting partial learning and no mastery, and no logical sequence of math topics. In previous eras, math was taught in a logical sequence of foundational skills and concepts that were built upon in succeeding levels. So while people like me may read this as a criticism of reform math, the edu-establishment is reading it as a criticism of traditionally taught math.

Then there’s the shift in “rigor”

“Rigor:

“Pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application with equal intensity

Rigor refers to deep, authentic command of mathematical concepts, not making math harder or introducing topics at earlier grades. To help students meet the standards, educators will need to pursue, with equal intensity, three aspects of rigor in the major work of each grade: conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application.”

The implication of CC’s discussion of rigor is that traditionally taught math doesn’t do these things equally. The CC discussion of rigor implies that trad math is rote learning, no understanding and no problem solving. Nonsense. And again, the past 25+ years have paid so much attention to “understanding” (by omitting or delaying the teaching the standard algorithms) that students are confronted with a smorgasboard of “side dishes” meant to enhance understanding but which confuse more than enlighten. And CC’s “shift” has been interpreted to do the “equal intensity” approach. So it has students doing the inefficient methods that supposedly build understanding, in a drill-like manner. Thus, students do 20 addition and subtraction problems by drawing the pictures to go along with it, and/or doing inefficient, time consuming and confusing procedures that can otherwise be done quickly using standard algorithms.

This interpretation allows practitioners to claim that it has given “drills” their due (i.e., “you see, we have students to drills and practice”) while at the same time succeeding in depleting any value such drills have in gaining any procedural fluency that matters. And of course what understanding is conferred in the process is questionable. I call it “drilling understanding” which has the predictable results of “rote understanding” and very little procedural skills. Drawing pictures with great speed is not procedural fluency.

In fact, there is nothing in Common Core that prohibits teaching the standard algorithms first and then supplementing with the alternate strategies that we are seeing so much of. Jason Zimba (one of the lead writers of the CC math standards) recommends teaching the standard algorithm for multidigit addition and subtraction in first grade, and then supplementing it and building upon it in succeeding grades. The CC standards require mastery of the std algorithm by 4th grade. The publishing industry and edu-establishment is intepreting the standards to mean delaying the teaching of the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction until 4th grade. Which is ludicrous.

See http://edexcellence.net/articles/when-the-standard-algorithm-is-the-only-algorithm-taught for Zimba’s article.