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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Common core math is a cure that is way worse than the disease.

First you should know I am not a math teacher, technically, I am however being required to teach watered down middle school math to kids many of who struggle to pick out their own names but this post isn’t about that. It’s about the horror show being inflicted upon teachers and families here and across the nation.

The Times Union did a piece about parent’s concerns about the new math and how basically they were over reacting, according to the district anyways but let’s look at what apparently the only math teachers in the district who like the new curriculum had to say about the new curriculum.

From the Times Union, in italics:

…Diane Briars, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “We want to engage students so they’re putting forth an effort in math,” she said. “We want a productive struggle.”

Ugh, why do we want them to struggle? These are kids. I am not saying make things easy for them or give them the answers but let’s put them in positions where success is achievable, something the new curriculum isn’t doing.

Furthermore what’s going to happen when kids become discouraged or start to hate math? Has anybody considered we might be doing more harm than good?

One reason many adults don’t like math, or feel they can’t do high-level math, is that we learned algorithms but not how they work or why to use them, Polikoff said. That is also why American students under-perform many peers around the world in math.
That sadly is a lie. When you factor out poverty our math test scores zoom to or near the top of the math rankings. How does common core math address poverty? The answer it doesn’t it just puts kids already behind the eight ball in an even worse position.  
“There’s no question that kids in a lot of countries have much better understanding of the concepts in math than our kids do,” he (Polikoff) said. “When you compare algebra exams in the U.S. to ones from the Shanghai region of China, it’s stunning how much more challenging and conceptually oriented they are.
So we changed our entire system to catch up with the kids in the Shanghai region of China? I don’t know how to put this politely but that is beyond dumb.  
Robert Curran, a math coach at Kings Trail Elementary, gave this example:
Instead of teaching a child to multiply 25 times 14 by putting one of the numbers below the other and multiplying each digit of the bottom number by each digit on the top, Curran would allow students to create a box chart, deconstructing the 25 into 20 and 5, and the 14 into 10 and 4. The students then could add the products of 20 times 10, 5 times 10, 20 times 4 and 5 times 4 together to total 350.
Students also learn visual techniques such as box or circle charts, tape diagrams and number lines to gain deeper understanding of number meaning and math functions, he said.
Even word problems will seem less daunting, Curran said. It may take awhile, even years, for parents to realize it, but today’s elementary students are being turned into tomorrow’s algebra and geometry whiz kids, Curran said.
Or Curan hopes so because even he admits the transfer of knowledge may take years. It seems like we are making a really big gamble with our children’s futures.
So let me sum up we changed the system to catch up with certain small enclaves around the world, we changed it to a system that both ignores poverty (our real problem) and reduces parents ability to help their children and the system is designed to cause frustration and stress in what are basically young impressionable children. It's my bet for every future engineer we create we're going to create a dozen that hate and want to have as little to do with math as possible.
What the %$#^ am I missing here?

Common core math is a cure that is way worse than the disease.


  1. I actually don't have a problem with the math standards...I am however very displeased with the math curriculum especially for the primary grades. We are being forced to teach vocabulary that is more "module-based" and not standards-based. Our students are not being taught how to be flexible in their thinking. Rather, they are being forced to learn the strategies and tools that is being presented in the module, which are often abstract and developmentally inappropriate for young children who are still learning how to count!

  2. Ditto that above!!! I have to explain a lot of vocabulary because a lot of the word problems deal in situation the kids don't have any idea of.....