Sunday, November 08, 2015

Common Core Math, Reform Math, Etc.

We've heard the stories, we've seen the idiocy, so let's take a more calm approach:
Briefly, none of these methods is anything new, and all have been taught in one form or another for years. The difference, however, is they used to be taught after students mastered the standard methods of addition and subtraction, as a type of mental shortcut. Teachers gave students a few exercises to do using the new method. It was up to the student whether to use the method. Mastery of the alternative method was not required.

It is true the Common Core standards do not explicitly mandate students master these methods, but the sequence of the standards and how they are written create this perception just as they affect the agenda of math reform, which predates Common Core by at least two decades.  (boldface mine--Darren)

The reform math agenda continues, almost unabated: Understanding and explaining one’s answer is key; all else is dismissed as just doing without knowing. Getting an answer correct is not enough. Students who cannot explain the reasoning behind how they solved a problem—even one as simple as 2 + 3 = 5— are deemed not to understand math. The explanation is thought of as both the evidence of and the pathway to “deeper understanding.”

What happens in reality, however, is such explanations are something the student is given to memorize. Thus, “deeper understanding” is nothing more than “rote understanding” and, in my opinion (and probably others’), likely to lead to a deep hatred of math...

My hope is the ill-suited approaches brought by the reform math agenda in the name of “deep understanding” are not so deeply embedded in American education that they will have taken permanent root. I am hoping whatever replaces them resembles the successful and well-written standards once in place in California, Indiana, and Massachusetts before Common Core superseded them.
While I thought they were a bit aggressive, California's pre-Core math standards were always given fairly high marks when people and groups evaluated them.

1 comment:

PeggyU said...

It's all a distraction from the real issue. Even if Common Core delivered outstanding results, it's still fundamentally wrong. It is not the role of the federal government to dictate education policy.