Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Engineering Mom, I Mean Dad, I Mean Get the Story Straight About Common Core

When I first saw this post it included a tag line…”Frustrated Parent Destroys The New Education System By Writing THIS On Her Son’s Test” 
First of all there are all kinds of grammatical errors in this title alone so we know this article is coming from a real educated source.  Didn’t you learn in 2nd grade when you learned subtraction that if the is in a title and not the first word it’s not capitalized?

Anyway. On to the math.  Yes, 427 – 316 = 111. Was that the question? Boy, the parents don't read any better than the kids apparently.

Have you ever told your children to clean their room?  I’m sure if your child is school age, and old enough for problems like the math above, at some point you said, “clean your room.”  That means do it.  You don’t care how, just get it done. It’s up to them to do it and have the final result of a clean room. Now have you ever said, “Use the vacuum to clean your room.”  This lets the child know that you want the room vacuumed and this is a specific.  
Maybe you don’t have your kid use the vacuum. 
Maybe you’ve never taught them to use the vacuum.  
Maybe then they would say, “but Mommy, I only know how to clean my room by putting my toys away in the toy box.” Fair enough.  But if you taught them to clean the room and clean it well enough that they use the vacuum then you may still get the same result (a clean room) but you might get more, the knowledge of using a vacuum. 
How about if you never use a vacuum?  Would it be foreign to you to expect your child to do so?  Probably.  Now, have you ever went into to your child’s room after they said it’s clean only to call them back to the door? 
Has this scenario ever happened in your house: 
Mom: “Billy, you said your room was clean but what’s wrong with this room?” 
Child: “I picked up all my toys mom.”
Mom: “You did that right but what is wrong?”
Child: “I dunno.”
Mom: “Don’t you see all the crayon wrappers on the floor, the doll hair, the shoes, the sunflower seeds? Why are there sunflower seeds in your room anyway?”
Child: “I see all those things but I still cleaned my room like you said.”
Mom: (In disgust) “Aggh!  I cannot believe you think this room is clean and when I asked what was wrong you saw nothing.” (frustrated)
Maybe I’m crazy but I want, EXPECT, my children to notice flaws in their logic.  I expect them to see what’s wrong with the not-so-clean room.  Fact is, I need to teach what is clean first. Right?
The question doesn’t say subtract, although that’s what Jack is doing.  It says Jack used the number line (a strategy) to solve the problem.  What did he do wrong and what did he do right? Tell him.
So in subtracting 316…
Can’t you see that Jack counted backwards 300, then he should have counted back 10 from 327, because there is 1 ten in 16. Did Jack do this?  This problem isn’t about subtracting; it’s about solving a problem.  If you see a problem that you KNOW what the final result should be, can you find the errors?  So now we are agreeing with the logic of a parent that says we shouldn’t teach our children to solve problems. We should do the work for them and let them go back to playing games on their electronic devices? That’s not going to develop new engineers, is it?

What it comes down to is there are pros and cons to every educational initiative.  There are students that thrive in various environments.  I’m not discussing all the ins/outs and rights/wrongs of Common Core State Standards, or if Singapore Math, or Everyday Math, or Connected Math aligns or doesn’t, but if you are looking at this one problem to decide if you like the “new way” of teaching math keep in mind we aren’t using this problem to teach the fastest way to subtract, this problem is about SOLVING a problem and testing a solution, and HELPING others.