On both coasts, grandparents are learning to apply a modern-day rule of thumb with surprising accuracy: If it looks inane, it’s probably Common Core.
“The Berkeley school district’s curriculum for sixth-grade math was an exact copy of the Common Core State Standards for the grade,” Marina Ratner wrote in The Wall Street Journal on August 5, 2014. “The teacher in my grandson’s class went through special Common Core training courses.”
“As his assigned homework and tests indicate, when teaching fractions, the teacher required that students draw pictures of everything: of 6 divided by 8, of 4 divided by 2/7, of 0.8 x 0.4, and so forth. In doing so, the teacher followed the instructions: ‘Interpret and compute quotients of fractions, and solve word problems involving division of fractions by fractions, e.g., by using visual fraction models and equations to represent the problem. For example, create a story context for 2/3 divided by 3/4 and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient . . .’
“Who would draw a picture to divide 2/3 by 3/4?” Ratner asks. She is a professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley.
“And my grandchildren are forever having to draw little boxes to illustrate arithmetic problems they already know the answers to,” a friend of mine in the New York City suburbs informs me.