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Dutchess_III's avatar

What are your thoughts on Common Core Math?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28066 points ) May 15th, 2014

Inspired by this article.
I, personally, don’t know anything about it. However, when my daughter was in elementary school (at a private school) in the 80’s they taught her some absurd way of adding, that had to do with drawing circles on a number, the number of circles corresponded with the number. Then they took their finger and touched all of the circles and counted them, and that was the answer.
To this day she can not add quickly and easily.

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17 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

This is what happens when you design a curriculum around theory and testing instead of practice and pedagogy. Mathematical theory is very interesting, but there’s a reason we don’t teach it until the college level. And even though it can help you understand how math works and why we teach math the way we do (or used to do), that sort of conceptual understanding is not a good place to start. It’s taught to education majors so that they can recognize what sort of problem a particular student is having and figure out alternative ways of explaining concepts to people struggling with the subject. It makes math easier to understand for those who already grasp the basics, but it does little to nothing for those still trying to remember their multiplication tables.

The basic idea of the Common Core—a national standard for what students should know by when—is fairly unobjectionable. Its execution, however, has been as bad as any recent attempt at national education reform. Race to the Top is as big a failure as No Child Left Behind, and for exactly the same reason: it doesn’t recognize the difference between performance on a test and proficiency in a skill. We’re never going to keep up with other countries until we stop thinking of education as a numbers game (particularly not if we keep thinking of it as a short-term numbers game).

Crazydawg's avatar

^^^What he said. My kids hate the CC math program.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s too bad @Crazydawg. Math can be so much fun, really. As a teacher, I hate rote memorization and prefer creativity and stuff. But there are some things you can’t get all that “creative” with. Math is one of those. Memorization is really the only way to go. If they can take it to a higher level on their own, they will.
I was subbing in a 5th grade class once. The kids were doing division. A kid came up to my desk and showed me his own way of doing the division. I wish I could remember how it did it, but it was simply awesome and I told him so! Serious thinking outside of the box. He asked if it was OK for him to do it his way and I said, “Absolutely!”
I mentioned it to his teacher and she said he consistently comes up with his own, unique ways of working math. She was glad I was willing to go with the flow and not insist that he do it the “way he was taught.” :D
Either you got it, or you don’t. Same with reading.

Crazydawg's avatar

@Dutchess_III Common Core is new to our school district and the fact that my kids hate the CC Math is because I don’t feel the teacher is prepared to properly teach it. Often the kids are shown 5 different ways to solve a problem and that just adds to the confusion and forcing me as a parent to enlist tutoring and many extra hours a week studying just to get a passing grade. My kid is not a dummy by any stretch.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with you @Crazydawg. And it’s not like the “old way,” the one we’ve used for a few thousand years, wasn’t working.
It’s kind of like when they tried to go to sight reading instead of phonics. My poor son couldn’t read by the time he got to 2nd grade, so I taught him phonics at home. He improved from there.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

My daughter has a first grader and a third grader. She helps them every night with their homework and the whole family hates common core math. usually one kid ends up in tears. the third grader has a teacher who also hates the common core math and told my daughter to just let the kid do the math the regular way.

my Grandchildren are part of the group that refuses to take the common core tests. I find the parents who are aware of what is going on opt their children out while the parents who don’t have a clue let their kids take the common core tests.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For some kids math is hard enough. Why make it even more complicated?

Yetanotheruser's avatar

The math you’re talking about from the 1980’s was called New Math. It has no relationship to Common Core Standards. The concept of common core standards (note the lack of capitalization) is a good wne, but the implementation of Common Core Standards (note capitalization) has led to the assessment (test) being the goal rather than a tool to measure students’ achievement and comprehension of a given subject.

RocketGuy's avatar

I learned math before New Math (and any subsequent math) and I have no problems. What is so hard about math that they have to reinvent it every 20 years? Is it the gym teachers teaching math, because I never had one of those?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Yetanotheruser I didn’t say there was a relationship. I say, as Rocket Guy said, why do they have to reinvent it every 20 years?

ibstubro's avatar

I had some form of “New Math” when I was a kid. Otherwise I might have been Albert Einstein.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

In some ways, I think, it is a way to sell books. I worked for major publishing house in the early nineties, and was surprised at the number of samples that went put when large states like Texas were looking for new textbooks.

jerv's avatar

My first reaction; “Dafuq?!”. This was followed by a headpalm, and I still haven’t gotten far enough past that to form a real opinion.

@ibstubro I’ve seen that 2–3 times in my lifetime, so I would imagine you’ve seen at least 5–6 “New math” iterations since you left school.

RocketGuy's avatar

To give them some credit, they found that a lot of kids had no concept of fractions. How can you subtract 1/6 of a pizza from a quarter pizza slice? A lot of kids were stumped. Sounds like a math teacher problem, where he/she did not progress the kids from fractions being slices of pizza to fractions being numerical values.

jerv's avatar

@RocketGuy Sounds like a visualization problem. Many people can understand things fine once they get a mental image.

A quarter of a pizza makes me instantly picture a 90-degree wedge, and 1/6 overlays an image of a 60-degree wedge, but to most people, 1/6 is just a weird-looking number and a quarter is just a word, neither of which have a mental image associated with them. This is also why I feel applied sciences and demonstration are better than text-based learning; you can actually see the lesson instead of a mere description of it.

RocketGuy's avatar

Common Core tries to do that at every stage, so simple integer math becomes a drawing exercise + a math exercise.

jerv's avatar

@RocketGuy From what I’ve seen, it does a piss-poor job of it though. Sums are now “number sentences” the same way shellshock became Operational Exhaustion. Anything gained in mathematical understanding is lost in terminology as you pretty much need to have English skills at least three grades above your academic grade. I don’t think that it really solves anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logic behind CC math (it mirrors how my mind has always seen numbers) but the execution of this attempted education reform leaves a lot to be desired.

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