Newer New Math

Posted: Oct 03, 2014 12:01 AM
Newer New Math

The other night I could hear my wife and third-grade daughter talking heatedly about something. I assumed they were having an argument. But eavesdropping on the raised voices, I realized that was not it. They were both loudly, angrily complaining about my daughter's math homework.

Her assignment involved one of several methods of subtraction she must learn. The way most people learn to subtract -- carrying numbers and borrowing -- is derisively called the "Granny Method" and is discouraged. The task at hand the other night involved subtracting using the "Counting-Up Subtraction Method."

This method of subtracting actually uses addition. For example, like the example given in the book, subtracting 38 from 325 can be derived by counting up. Raise 38 to 40, by going up 2. Raise 40 to 100 by going up 60. Raise 100 to 300 by going up 200. Raise 300 to 325 by going up 25. Then add the jumps together so that 2 + 60 + 200 + 25 = 287. That would be the answer.

There is only one page in the textbook that explains the "Counting-Up Subtraction Method," and that is the only example given. Again, this is third grade.

A few weeks ago, Greg Gutfeld of Fox News showed a video of a teacher explaining the method. The teacher was trying to explain that counting by 10s was happy and counting outside of 10s was somehow bad. The video hysterically showed how mind numbing the Common Core is in practice.

My wife thought the video was exaggerated. She knew it would never actually happen in our private, Christian school. Then she and my third-grader arrived at that very type of math. Our school did not want to be in the middle of this, but it has no choice. Standardized tests are headed in that direction. If children are going to be competent on standardized tests, schools have no choice.

What makes the whole ordeal more aggravating are the Common Core advocates who say these horror shows of math are not in the standards. The Common Core, put together by states and corporations intent on training up new cogs for the industrial machines of billionaires, just want common standards across the nation.

Nowhere in the Common Core are students mandated to learn how to add to subtract. But they are, for example, required to "understand multi-digit numbers (up to 1000) written in base-10 notation, recognizing that the digits in each place represent amounts of 1000s, 100s, 10s, or ones," according to the second-grade standard.

Textbook publishers have responded with various textbooks put together helpfully by people involved in developing the Common Core. Various textbook companies have all come to the conclusion that multiple bizarre subtraction methods are necessary and are related to "base-10 notation." Common Core supporters say the problem is not the standards, but the implementation of the standards.

This sounds like ivy-league marxists claiming the problem with communism was not the theoretical system, but as it was implemented by multiple societies around the world. No one has yet to get it right, but the ivy-league marxists are still convinced it is not communism per se that is the problem.

Compounding the issue is that the biggest advocates of Common Core tend to be 20-something to 40-something childless white men who are affiliated with various pro-business, pro-Republican think tanks, trade associations and the Chamber of Commerce. They are not having to help a third-grader do her homework at night, but want Mom to know the Common Core is really awesome if only everybody in academia would get it right.

My wife has a degree in computer programming and finds herself in lockstep with more and more mothers across the nation who just want to tar and feather the geniuses who came up with Common Core. This issue, once under the radar, is going to be keep growing into a major political issue as more and more mothers are less and less able to help their children with homework.