On school break, after escaping the snowy doldrums of Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, I received the news that my uncle and cousin would visit soon. I’m a high school student, but my cousin is still in public elementary school and my sister is in public middle school.
My little cousin told my mother and me about his school life. I became intrigued when he began to talk about his mathematical studies. He spoke about the difficulties of learning “new math,” which I now know is the Common Core State Standards. He painted his teacher as a hero who, he confided to my mother and me in hushed tones, secretly teaches “old math,” which he comprehends so much better.
Common Core math degrades the value of mental math, which should considered a talent, rather than being shunned in classrooms. Most children learn the basic foundation of lessons in math classes and then can solve equations in their heads. Now, however, children are being taught that if they cannot explain the entire theory behind their work, then they are incorrect.
Math classes have become number-based English classes. I would, of course, never suggest that English graduates are obsolete, but if we turn today’s children into little mathematicians who can’t do math, the future does not look very bright.
Common Core is supposed to exploit children’s craving for deeper learning and understanding, but it is at the cost of their comprehension.
The term creative is usually applied to artistic endeavors in our society. But divergent thinking is a key cognitive ability in all classes. Children should, of course, be taught how to show work, but the new standards are practically requiring proofs for multiplication equations.