Articles I Never Finished Reading, Dept.

From an article about “how math might have changed since you were in school.”

“With Common Core, students are learning more complicated and in-depth methods of doing math that focus, in part, on a simple idea: Teach students to think critically and to do so at an earlier age compared with previous standards so they can pursue career training or college, Mooney said.”

And how’s that been working out for the nation?


“Mooney said an obstacle in implementing the standards comes from figuring out how to overcome conventional wisdom about how people learn and talk and think about math.”

Right. Because in past eras which progressives deem to have “failed thousands of students” math textbooks taught standard algorithms first, and gave many practice problems (including word problems). After mastery of the standard methods, students were then shown alternative strategies–but they had as an anchor the standard algorithms from which they could then venture out. In that way, the alternative strategies helped spotlight why the algorithms worked as they did.

The strategies taught in those bygone days were the same ones that are now taught first under the Common Core standards to ensure understanding. Now, students don’t get to learn the standard algorithms until they master the strategies that are thought to provide the conceptual understanding.  And for the most part, in those days that supposedly failed all those students, there were explanations as to why the standard algorithms worked. That is, the conceptual understanding accompanied the explanation of how to use the standard algorithms. (See this article for further rants and perambulations on this topic).



8 thoughts on “Articles I Never Finished Reading, Dept.

  1. Well, thinking to divide by 3 first would require that you KNOW that 60 divides by 3, wouldn’t it? You can’t really evaluate one way of solving an equation over another if you don’t have basic knowledge of what we used to call “math facts.”
    Typical of the constructivists to not see the glaring contradiction in their own philosophy.


  2. Okay, I am going out on a serious limb here, but after 20 years of teaching math I believe that my point is relevant, perhaps serious.
    Math is a logical language.
    To understand a language, you have to be able to read it.
    Kids can read neither math nor English is my observation.

    ELA/Reading/English education has moved away from actual grammar to just writing with no real sense of structure. This impacts math.
    To which I say, if you don’t see structure in your own language, how can I teach you about structure in math?
    English teachers: Diagramming sentences doesn’t make you a better writer.
    Me: But wasn’t the purpose of diagramming sentences to understand the structure of the English language?

    Was the purpose of teaching English simply to make you a writer? Or was it to teach you the structure of the language? Any wonder that ACT scores are declining, across all content areas? Because let’s be honest, the ACT is a reading test, first and foremost. And you can’t read well if you don’t get the basic structure of a sentence.
    Any kid with a modicum of basic English grammar can parse the sentence: The sum of three consecutive integers is 12 less than 5 times the greatest. But do you know how many students I have who can’t tell the difference between “less than” and “IS less than?” I can’t tell you how many strange inequalities I get when I ask this question.

    So, we are living downstream from bad math AND bad English/LA instruction. The battle is worse than just common core math.


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