4 Common Core Secrets Revealed By A Stanford Mathematics Professor

Common Core Math

If you been on Facebook or watched the news  lately you may have noticed some pretty bizarre parent provided math worksheets.  The usual responses are parents calling it new math, mental math, common core math, inappropriate math or just plain old “stupid math”. Regardless of the name it is very foreign to students and their parents who seemingly struggle with it just as much as their children. Their struggle is not without a good reason as most people have never seen this approach to to math.

For most parents, the concepts and required procedures are needlessly laborious for simple calculations such as finding the area of a rectangle measuring 4″x3″. If you are like most people, you just multiplied the numbers and came to the correct answer in less than a second. In Common Core math, they (the designers)  attempt to add in additional steps which are generally irrelevant unless you want to train people in a method or thought process that might be useful in other problems.

The recent post (below) in the Stop Common Core In NY Facebook group sums up the frustration many parents feel:


Common Core Math Example

Source: Member/Parent – Stop Common Core In New York Facebook Group


Like this parent, we wondered why anyone would have to figure out a problem in this manner.  Nobody will ever draw dots on a page when presented with a similar problem in life.  What career asks for people that are educated in graph dot mastery for simple decimal calculations?  We decided there must be a plausible answer to one of the most baffling and frequent questions about Common Core math… Why? To that end, we searched the internet for an easy to understand answer and we believe we have found one on Youtube.


  Stanford Professor answers the “Why” of this strange math:

Below is a video from Stanford University Mathematics Professor Jo Boaler. In the video she describes 4 aspects of math that need to change and how the new math seeks to achieve the changes using everyday language and terms. As a parent you may find that once you understand what they are attempting to impress upon your child and why, your frustration will lower tremendously as you can now do something that we all took for granted… being able to help your child. You may also discover (like we did) that your wine will return to something to be bought and not heard.


Why Students in the US need Common Core Math


If you found the video above to be useful, Professor Boaler along with Standford University offers additional free help for you, your child and even teachers.  We took the following course description from the Youcubed website run by Professor Boaler.

 Free online course for students of all levels

How to Learn Math is a free class for learners of all levels of mathematics. There are 6 sessions, the first three are approximately 10 minutes long and the last three approximately 20 mins long. It combines really important information on the brain and learning with new evidence on the best ways to approach and learn math effectively. Many people have had negative experiences with math, and end up disliking math or failing.  This class will give learners of math the information they need to become powerful math learners, it will correct any misconceptions they have about what math is, and it will teach them about their own potential to succeed and the strategies needed to approach math effectively. If you have had past negative experiences with math this will help change your relationship to one that is positive and powerful.

The course will feature Professor Jo Boaler as well as videos of math in action – in dance, juggling, snowflakes, soccer and many other applications. It is designed with a pedagogy of active engagement.

 Main concepts to learn in this course:
•Knocking Down the Myths About Math
•Math and Mindset
•Mistakes and Speed
•Number Flexibility, Mathematical Reasoning, and Connections
•Number Patterns and Representations
•Math in Life, Nature and Work

There are no prerequisites for this course.


If you choose to register, please ignore any dates or information that would imply the free course is over. We signed up and were able to access the videos and worksheets with ease…  which is one of the best attributes of online learning –  you may start at the beginning of a course at any moment.   We did not attempt to register for the parents and teachers course which may have specific start and end dates along with a small fee. -whydad.net

Unfortunately, parents and students are stuck with this math.

Recent news in NY is that the teachers unions have begun advocating parents to opt out of certain tests. That would seem to be of help in ending Common Core however, these unions have said they agree with Common Core standards and have said next to nothing regarding the curriculum that was created to comply with associated standards.  They are not fighting to fix the Common Core curriculum, they are looking to change part #2 of Common Core… the teacher accountability phase.

Whether the unions win or lose, the math curriculum and the ELA “modules of misery”  at Engageny will remain. As Bill Gates has said in the past, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well”. Which means anyone who supports the standards (government, unions, crazy non profits and businesses) also supports the aligned curriculum.   For many parents and their children, that likely means we are stuck with this math until graduation when many of the students will promptly forget half of it because most of them will never use it. Assuming that they eventually understood it.


Hopefully  this article has inspired you to look into the “why” so that you can avoid dancing around your home while drinking wine and making clever Taylor Swift parodies like this parent:

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  • Mitchell Rubinstein

    The “why” is NOT really what is described here. The real reason for Common Core and for these changes in math instruction was to force everyone to buy expensive new textbooks an curriculum materials, and throw out methods that have been successfully used to teach mathematics for… what….2000 years or so? KaCHIING.

    • http://www.whydad.net whydad

      I’ve read many of your FB comments and find them to be honest and well informed. What you have described above is commonplace in the software industry. Every few years the standards are changed for no other apparent reason than to sell more texts, magazines, the all important “training” and lectures. On a smaller scale, a company (we will call it Micro-softer for this example) will add a new number to a name plus a few features to old software and then claim it’s new just to generate upgrades and new sales.

      As far this blog is concerned, Common Core… especially the curriculum, needs to be ripped out by its roots and the ground burned to ensure it never grows back. Getting to that Trinity site is a matter of old school calculation.

      With that in mind, if you have something to add, we have read your older FB posts when they were posted and would not be opposed to posting your perspectives. Another voice cannot hurt the message.

  • Mitchell Rubinstein

    Interestingly, Stanford University’s real mathematics content expert, Professor Emeritus James Milgram, was a member of the Common Core validation committee. He, and a number of others REFUSED to sign off on Common Core, once he saw the low quality and sloppy methodology of the final standards. Professor Boaler may want to discuss the matter with a real expert, before telling us these changes have any value…. Just sayin’

    • http://www.whydad.net whydad

      Mitchell, we not saying it has value, we are saying we are stuck with it. To some, they may understand the approach but if the perpetual wave of strange worksheets is any indication, many do not get it. There is a new photo of a child crying floating around Facebook, did you notice the math worksheet in front of him and comments from dozens of parents confirming the same scene? If this video can help few parents prevent that nightly torture scene, the article has served its purpose.

      • James Martin

        You’re only stuck with it if you choose to be stuck with it. We have this cool thing called freedom in the United States. So you are free to send your kids to another school if you don’t like the way things are being done in your home district. There is also home schooling, and charter schools. I will be damned if I let the government push this inferior math down my kids throats. Did you know that if your kids pass highschool with common core math they are REQUIRED to take remedial math in College? Did you also know that common core math makes students ineligible for STEM right out of highschool? Why in the hell are we resigning ourselves to just accept this crap?