Joe Chiang: Common Core Math Is Not Common

There have been complaints about elementary teachers, elementary students, and parents of elementary students being unable to understand Common Core elementary math.  There is a logical reason.

The methods elementary teachers must teach are learned by math majors in Number Theory College Math class, an advanced math class sometimes taken by math minors as well as majors.  It would be very nice for students to understand these advanced concepts when they enter college so they could move directly to even more advanced math.  Thus, college instructors wanting elementary students to understand these methods and have included in these concepts in the Common Core curriculum they wrote.  There is a small problem.

These methods were first introduced in elementary math under the name “New Math”.  I and other “Math People” understood it as students with no effort.  There is no significant difference between “New Math” and “Common Core Math”.  Therefore, Common Core math has already failed as the problems with the New Math failures were never addressed.  So the problems that caused New Math to fail must also make Common Core Math to fail.

Elementary teachers, generally, are not math people and have not had advanced math at the college level.  Therefore, they do not understand these advanced concepts in order to teach them.  Thus their confusion.

Elementary students are not quite ready to take college number theory.  Maybe a few more years of math, like 10-12 years of math and they may be better prepared.

Then there is the problem with parents being unable to help their children.  Many, maybe most parents have not taken college number theory.  Those who have are probably having no trouble helping their children.  So they lack the understanding of this level of math needed to help their children.

Perhaps the incumbent has taken college number theory and would be willing to teach elementary teachers this subject.  I have and I am certified to teach it.  But my professional evaluation is that the methods cannot be taught to elementary teachers without a lot of foundational education.  These methods must be modified and simplified to what a non-math teacher can teach to a non-math student who could then be helped by a non-math parent.  I could do this, but obviously, the writers of Common Core were unable to do so.

I hope this explains why Common Core Math is not working in North Dakota schools and why it cannnot work.  The only successful option will be to get rid of Common Core.

I am not a language teacher, but my understanding is that subject has been as well thought out as the math.  The incumbent has stated she will not sign the papers to get rid of this mess.  Seems like citizens will have to come up with some other way to remove this from our classrooms than trusting those currently in authority to do so.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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