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