Decoding Common Core Math

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

If the Common Core education reforms introduced by President Obama and supported by big-name Republicans were subject to peer review, they might become a “whatever became of?” question.

“Take, for example, my first-grade son’s Common Core math lesson in basic subtraction,” David G. Bonagura, Jr., writes in an article which appeared in The Education Reporter. “Six- and seven-year-olds do not yet possess the ability to think abstractly; their mathematics instruction, therefore, must employ concrete methodologies, explanations, and examples.”

“But rather than, say, count on a number line or use objects, Common Core’s standards mandate teaching first-graders to ‘decompose’ two-digit numbers in an effort to emphasize the concept of place value. Thus 13 – 4 is warped into 13 – 3 = 10 – 1 = 9. Decomposition is a useful skill for older children, but my first-grade son has no clue what it is about or how to do it. He can, however, memorize the answer to 13 – 4. But Common Core does not advocate that tried-and-true technique.”

The Education Reporter is published by the Eagle Forum, an organization founded by conservative attorney, author and activist Phyllis Schlafly. Bonangura’s article was reprinted by permission from National Review, in which it originally appeared.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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  1. Rachel Merkley

    July 10, 2014 12:14 am

    if memorization were a “tried and true” method for people…i would
    not have kids in my middle school classes who have nothing in the “basic
    facts” part of their brain and need a calculator for simple addition
    and subtraction.. and multiplication and division…

    does not have to be abstract… you could throw 13 counting bears on
    their desk and ask them to take away for and talk about how they would
    do it… and i think we might be surprised by their responses..

    core language is not what kids or parents or even the public need to
    understand… many teachers don’t… myself included sometimes.. because
    those tried and true methods did not work for them either and they
    still struggle with the sense making part of mathematics, even if the
    procedures are still in their brains… and many of my friends who chose
    elementary teaching did so because the math was manageable at that
    level… that is where they were comfortable with it because it was not
    their best subject either! does that sound like it is working?

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