Perhaps the key to getting parents angry enough to fight Common Core is by making them go back to school to re-learn everything they were originally taught–
Common Core math has been the discussion of many frustrated parents and the cause of many shed tears over homework. More than one post from an angry parent has made its way to the internet over a difficult or impossible homework assignment. These rants are not limited to those who are under-educated, in fact, several have been posted by parents who hold advanced degrees in one of the STEM fields. Yet, Common Core advocates have decided the fix for these woes is to have parents go back to school to learn how to help their elementary kids with their homework. Seems logical…
Newark City Schools of Ohio has created a special school for parents called the Parent Math Academy. The online school is designed to teach parents how to help their kids with their homework by introducing parents to the new terminology, concepts, and graphics or strategies their students might see. As we all know, Math is a changing field with the “addition” of new concepts and numbers appearing annually, right?
David Bonagura Jr. explained the fallacy behind this idea that Common Core is an improvement on how to teach or learn math. He explains in an article for National Review Online:
“The problem with Common Core is not that it provides standards, but that, despite its claims, there is a particular pedagogy that accompanies the standards. And this pedagogy is flawed, for, just as in New Math, (A revolutionary idea from the 60’s that failed miserably to teach students math) from the youngest ages Common Core buries students in concepts at the expense of content.”
Mr. Bonagura continues by explaining that his first grade son, like most early education children, lacks the ability to think in the abstract. Yet, Common Core ignores this well-known fact and attempts to force students to think in the abstract anyway. Rather than simply memorizing as Bonagura puts it, “13 – 4 becomes 13 – 3 = 10 – 1 = 9. Decomposition is a useful skill for older children, but my first grade son has no clue what it is about or how to do it.” The vast majority of other students his age are equally clueless but could easily remember 13 – 4 = 9. It seems Common Core is not interested in easy.
So, this pedagogy of teaching kids unable to think in the abstract, concepts which require them to think in the abstract…is going to be corrected by teaching parents these concepts. As an educator, I can tell you exactly what will happen. Parents will learn these abstract ideas because they are capable of grasping them easily but their kids will not. The tears will continue over homework and ultimately, most parents will just give the kids the answers and nothing mathematical will have been learned in the process by the student.
In the same way that similar “new wheel” discoveries in how to teach kids math have failed. (See New Math, Sequential Math, Math A/B, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, for example) Common Core math is just another re-invention of the wheel that will end up flat. Between the time this brilliant strategy is introduced, wept over, and ultimately cast aside as frivolous, how many kids will suffer?
Common Core, Sequential Math, New Math, etc., should all take a lesson from New Coke. Remember when Coca-Cola decided to take their primary product and tweak the flavor? The results were clear in very short order. You should not attempt to fix something that is clearly not broken. Now, that is not to say that mathematics is not currently broken in America. However, it is to say we need to return to the original formula. That’s exactly what Coca-Cola did and they soon returned to being the number one brand of soda.
Educators and Curriculum coordinators need not reinvent the wheel to discover how to best teach mathematics. They simply need to take a look at the last time American students were on top in mathematics, had a strong mastery of the subject, its concepts, and had success in related fields. At that point, all they would need to do is return to the methods that produced the successful results and the problem is solved. Pun intended.