I saw another one of those “Common Core Math is stupid” posts on Facebook again today. The post introduced the idea of “Fake Math.”
And here is my answer to that post (I’ll update if I get cussed out by any of my friend’s friends):
So, I’m going to explain this in the “What has been wrong with education up until now, and how we are trying to fix it” fashion.
Adults these days do math problems, a lot of times on calculators, and they just stick some numbers in, get some number out, and stick it in the box. They don’t know, by looking at their answer, whether their answer is right or wrong, or even close, because they can’t imagine what the answer should be. They don’t even think through their answers anymore. They barely look at the problem, stick a few numbers in the calculator, and then answer.
They don’t know if they are close. They don’t know if it’s right. They just plug and chug numbers that they don’t understand. They may add 28 and 103 to get an answer of 131. They didn’t know whether to add or subtract, because they can’t follow or comprehend the word problem. Maybe they add all three numbers together, by sticking them in a calculator, and say their answer is 206 pages. You can’t even fathom the number of kids today who can’t follow word problems. And that hurts them in real life, where it’s never as simple as just add and subtract, and stick it easily into a calculator.
Common Core is attempting to make kids THINK about the problems. You don’t see the directions on that problem. The math teacher is asking them about the reasonableness of the answer. The teacher is asking for an estimate.
Yes. 75 is close to 70, which you can surmise if you look at the tens position. Kids are being taught how to actually THINK about numbers, which many adults can’t do. Look at everyone on this post who is all “Wow” or “How stupid.” They can stick a number in a calculator and say “This is stupid.” But our kids are being taught how to actually KNOW whether they are in the ballpark or not. With calculators, we as adults can easily mistype.
But our kids are being taught to think. To not “plug in the number without thinking.” It’s not “Fake Math.” It’s a real understanding of numbers that most people under 40 are incapable of. Anyone who grew up using a calculator and not doing actual calculations is missing a huge chunk of knowledge, that Common Core is attempting to correct.
It’s a real problem, because parents who don’t understand the way math knowledge is formed, and don’t know how to help their children with homework. The struggle is real.
So the next time you run across one of these “Common Core is stupid” posts, think about what your level of understanding of math was BEFORE you ever learned to use a calculator. It’s hard to remember, because calculators are in all of our pockets now, and most of us can read. But your child, who is forming their understanding of how numbers work, and how to read word problems, needs to understand the relativity of numbers. And how to estimate their answers. And whether an answer is reasonable. It’s not the teachers or the Common Core that is stupid, it’s that your child is learning to form the knowledge of math that you already have. And we’re teaching them to understand numbers better than the way we were taught.
Common Core is not the enemy. Common Core is not making your child stupid or teaching them “Fake Math.” It’s taking your child’s understandable deficit of knowledge on the way numbers are relative, and teaching them BETTER than we were taught. So that kids actually understand how numbers work, without a calculator.