It was written by a Maryland math teacher in the throes of a Core-gasm. Before the Core her life was an empty desert, a Rub al-Khali, but now her life is Core-tastic. Core, core, core. I was doing fine with her story until she got to this one part--and I about blew a gasket:
As an instigator of thought, I try to ask the right question—one that enables unsure teenagers to progress to the next level of learning. I've learned to use "hook questions" to engage students' curiosity and encourage inquiry in math.Are you kidding me? This teacher doesn't know enough basic math to be in a classroom. This teacher is incompetent.
A hook question has no one right answer. It doesn't even have to be something to which you know the answer. A good hook question encourages students to become investigators and to seek the answer from outside resources—textbooks, the Internet, even their communities. This open-endedness might also lead students to use several of the Common Core's practice standards, such as, make sense of problems (Standard 1) or look for and make use of structure (Standard 7).
For example, as students learn how to solve inequalities, we tell them that if you multiply or divide by a negative number, you have to flip the sign of the inequality. As I explained this rule, one of my students asked, "Why?" As I thought about it, I realized I wasn't sure. I could show this rule with an example, but I couldn't explain why it existed.
I made discovering the answer to this question students' homework for the night and challenged them to find the answer before me.
I don't need students to spend an evening "researching" this. What a waste of time! I could explain and demonstrate why this is so in a minute or two. Students will "get it" and we can move on without the false glory of having students pretend they've discovered some ancient truth that's been hidden for millenia. Seriously, that problem is barely more difficult than the concept of "borrowing" in subtraction (another skill and algorithm that's being cast aside by many who worship at the Altar of the Core).
I get that California has adopted new content standards, the Common Core. What I don't accept is when people tell me that those new standards will require me to fundamentally change the way I teach. How do they know? Do my students do poorly now? How do they know I'm not getting my students to think deeply on topics, or to persevere, or to attend to precision? Why would anyone possibly think I'm not already doing those things?
I'll tell you why. Because there are teachers like the incompetent I quoted above--and because she exists, all math teachers must be bad like her. We can throw out the bath water of our old content standards, but there's no reason to throw out the baby of good teaching just because some woman in Maryland doesn't understand the simplest of math concepts. It would be different altogether if she had forgotten, for example, how to manipulate a sine curve with a phase shift, but the level of her lack of knowledge is, quite simply, an embarrassment. It's unforgivable.
She thinks she's done some great and wonderful thing by having her students spend a bunch of time figuring out what she could and should have taught them in a minute or so if she were at all competent. "The Core" may be necessary for her professional growth, but I seem to know a bit more math than she does--and in addition I also know how to transmit that knowledge to students.
Teachers who revel in their own ignorance, who try to spin virtue out of vice? I can do without them and their ideas, thankyouverymuch.