Ace writes about Common Core math pedagogy:
Common Core needlessly complicates the simple. They complicate the simple, supposedly, to impart “number sense” to kids, to get them to understand not just that 9 +3 = 12, but why 9 + 3 =12.
That’s a very ambitious goal.
I suppose we should ask this question, however: Given that teachers are currently failing in the less-ambitious goal of simply teaching that 9+3= 12, why do we believe they’ll be better at the more-ambitious goal of teaching why 9+3 =12…
Pedagogues have been doing this sort of thing for ages. In fact, Tom Lehrer got their number back in the early 60s when he lampooned what was then called “New Math.” Enjoy this; it’s timeless:
Speaking of timeless, I was lucky enough to be educated prior to such abominations, although even in my day there were tiny hints of what was to come. For example, my grandmother used to tell a favorite story about something I did as a child. I have no memory of the incident, but it sounds about right. When I was in grades one and two there was a big push to get us to see that the simple math tables we were learning had practical real-world applications. This bored me no end, but I knew that if I failed to label my math problems properly (one apple plus five apples equals six apples), I would be marked down even if I got the right mathematical answer.
I hated it, but I complied. And according to my grandmother (who’d been a teacher back at the turn of the century—that’s the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century, by the way) I applied it. When I was around six or so I was playing with some toys in her apartment while she was talking to a friend (also a former schoolteacher) about teaching children their math tables by drilling them with flash cards and the like. They didn’t think I was paying attention—why would I be?—until I suddenly cried out, “No, no, no!”, leapt up, and imperiously and impatiently said, “That’s not how you do it!”
They were sitting in front of a dish of cookies, and I took four out of the plate, lined them up in two rows of two, and pointed. “You have to say two of these and two of these!” I insisted, having learned my lesson.