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:
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: