Quantcast
Opinion

Letter: Math changes

Comments

Return To Article
  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 18, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    To "OHBU" the rules are the same. When I was in college I took Calculus, ODE, and PDE math courses. There are still distinct rules that apply. The trick with math is knowing when each rule applies. The first and second derivative of Sin are always the same, they never change. I deal with math and physics every day, and there is no creativity in how you apply math. The only creativity is in your assumptions, but that is not math, that takes understanding of physics and is only used to approximate reality.

    Math itself is not creative, it is a logical linear method that is governed strictly by math facts and rules. It is not like a language. 1+1=2 or you are wrong.

    But that is a digression from my earlier point. How do you expect your children to master multiple methods in the same time that used to be used for mastery of 1?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    June 18, 2014 1:08 p.m.

    re: Redshirt,

    Yes, I do have actual experience dealing with these approaches. My own children are learning them and I've looked over the curriculum with one of the middle school math teachers.

    "Math is a matter of memorizing specific rules." This is simply not factually accurate. Math is a means to solving problems. The "rules" are one way in which math can be implemented. In simple addition, etc, you are perhaps correct. But when one gets to the advanced levels of math--the level these earlier approaches are preparing the student for--there isn't just one way. To build a rocket, one has to understand how math works and the concepts behind the "rules" in order to solve problems and calibrate. When dealing with gravity, aerodynamics, collisions, bridge building, computer engineering, chemistry, physics, etc. math is actually more creative than you're acknowledging.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 18, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    To "OHBU" have you actually dealt with the multiple approaches that they are teaching? Most make so little sense that the teachers cannot explain them. I had to sit down with my child once and work for 15 to 20 minutes just to figure out how the method worked because it was so backwards.

    But this, once again, leads us back to the same problem with the math standards. So rather than the kids learning 1 method for math, they now have multiple methods. How do you expect them to achieve mastery of those concepts if they have to learn multiple methods in the same amount of time that they would have had to learn 1 method?

    Math is not analogous to learning linguistics. Math is a matter of memorizing specific rules. 1+1=2 always is the same, there are no exceptions and it never changes.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    June 17, 2014 2:41 p.m.

    "I'm not in favor of teaching kids 4 or 5 approaches to solving one problem, when most cannot master 1 way. "

    This, to me, is actually one of the strengths of the new curriculum. Admittedly, it's a difficult transition for some, and particularly the kids in High School who have been on one track and haven't had the benefit of the program from the beginning. But the reason they are teaching the same problem several ways is that they want kids to actually understand the concepts behind the math. Not just "plug this here, do as I say, and parrot it back to me." Rather, "here's why that number does what it does when you multiply it. Here's what's happening to the number when you carry the one." The problem with just teaching a series of equations and theorems, is that kids never learn why they're doing it or how the numbers actually work. When they reach more advanced levels, all they're doing is figuring out which equation to plug in, rather than how to actually solve the problem.

    It's analogous to learning linguistics and etymology, rather than just memorizing spelling rules.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 16, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    Birder.... one statement you made points to a huge problem in education....

    "I'm not in favor of teaching kids 4 or 5 approaches to solving one problem, when most cannot master 1 way. "

    The problem is that you don't have just one kind of kid in school. 30 years ago those kids who couldn't master the one way were told they were stupid and were sent of to remedial classes. Now we mainstream everyone, and teach to no ones skill level or way of learning.

    Fortunately for me, I didn't come out of school thinking the grades I got were representative of my ability to learn. I proved my point by getting a JD/MBA from a top 10 school. I enjoyed having the last laugh at the 1 size fits all model of education.

    Unfortunately too many kids end up in McEducation where they come out thinking they can't learn - rather than understanding they just learn differently. Parents end up frustrated because of the one size fits all education system. We need to rethink the corporatization of education because it will leave too many people on the side lines.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    June 16, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    The problems with math are a combination of Common Core standards which are hard to interpret and teach, poor instructional materials, and districts that are trying to fast-track the implementation of Common Core without the requisite materials to help teachers teach and also help kids and parents understand this totally different approach. I teach in Jordan District, and our district adopted math textbooks at the elementary level that were put together rapidly so that the publisher could get the very lucrative school district contract. Many of the explanations of math procedures are extremely poor. As a teacher of over 30 years, I read some of the problems and have no clue what they are saying.

    A few of the new approaches make some sense, but many do not. I'm not in favor of teaching kids 4 or 5 approaches to solving one problem, when most cannot master 1 way. Also, there is not sufficient emphasis on basic computation skills that kids will need forever. Some of the concepts in the Common Core are not age appropriate. Kids don't have the background to learn algebra as early as it is introduced, for example.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    June 16, 2014 3:46 p.m.

    @redshirt: on the money. When schools had to administer the old USBCT test the biggest problem with how kids on the math was in the areas of add,subtract, multiply and divide. Those of us in our 50's were drilled in those areas. Flash cards were the rage. Today kids have a tough time with any math requiring them to use paper and pencil, no calculator.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 16, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    To those of you who claim it isn't the standards, you are wrong. The standards have been messed up over the past 20 years or more. The problem is that schools are trying to sound like they are meeting parents' demands to teach more. So, rather than pushing the kids to mastery of 2 digit addition until the kids are in 2nd grade, they now boast about teaching young kids geometry, algebra, and other more advanced concepts.

    The problem lies in the simple fact that the kids are taught so many different concepts that they never master any of them. 40 years ago kids in the 3rd grade could handle multiplication and division up to 12 by's. Now, kids are still struggling with multiplication in the 4th and 5th grades.

    What I am writing about I have seen first hand, and is not reported by anybody liberal or conservative.

    What is the point of teaching algebra to kids that still cannot add, subtract, multiply, or divide 2 digit numbers?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 16, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    @winglish.... are you seriously trying to tell us that not having current text books, and constantly evolving curriculum from the district or state are new problems since common core? Really? My mom was an educator oat of her life, and my wife is currently an educator..... and complaints on both of these topics has been a constant for as long as I can remember.

    The good news for my wife is her school is going all electronic from here on out... so hopefully this revolving door gains some sanity.

    Common core is not the problem..... how we teach in a modern world is what is being exposed.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 16, 2014 7:53 a.m.

    "You are correct to blame the Common Core adoption, as all math courses have been forced to adopt the new curriculum."

    Baloney. Trig is still Trig. Algebra is still Algebra. Blaming Common Core is like blaming speed limits on why you are late to church or work. If you look at what common core prescribes for math, there is nothing in there that radically changes the equation of how you teach math - pun intended.

    What has changed from what i have seen is a change away from memorizing mathematical formulas with an attempt to teach mathematical reasoning... learning how to apply the right math to the right problem without focusing on which specialty it came from. For those of us who excelled at word problems, and did horrible on the whole "show your work" still of math - this is a bonanza. From those like my son who thrive on memorization, he struggles with the new methods.

    New math has been a long time coming.... and it is still a work in progress. The fundamentals are still the same though. This far predates "common core"..... the new cause of all things evil.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    June 15, 2014 10:33 p.m.

    Here is the biggest problem with Math. Of all the subjects taught it is the one subject that requires students to work. I mean work. And if they don't get it early they could care less. It is a hoop most must jump through for graduation purposes. That is how they see it. I'm not being cold, cruel or facetious here. It is a fact. Most adults today who are in their 50's and 60's were the same way but they expect their kids and their grand kids to not only learn it better than they learned it but to like it as well. For most that puts math up there with broccoli and Lima beans. Gotta eat them when the parents are looking but when they aren't it gets tossed down the commode.

    Kids figure out the math stuff after high school and most will never use Trigonometry so why do we push it on them in Math 3, at the high school level. Just give them broccoli and tell them "eat one bite, keep it down, and you can graduate". You will have a better chance there.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 15, 2014 7:14 p.m.

    Winglish, thanks for the response.

    But in your response you hit the nail on the head. It's not Common Core that is the problem. It's money again. And confusion. And a confused school board. And district administrators who retired long ago but still occupy an office. And a legislature that is trying to destroy public education.

    It's not the Common Core.

    Frustrating, isn't it?

    Hang in there, though. And thanks for being a teacher.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 15, 2014 6:35 p.m.

    My daughter is getting an excellent education with calculus here. Blame it on YOUR own local area. Go to a school board meeting.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    June 15, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    @one old man
    You can bet your own life and everything you own that I teach in a public school in a Utah school district. I work in a district that still does not have new textbooks which match the Common Core, around which our students took their SAGE test this year.
    Allegedly the district is going to have a three years long textbook adoption plan. Math is scheduled to go first, followed by science, followed by English. Meanwhile, all three groups have had to follow the new core curriculum with teachers creating all of their own assignments and assessments. Then once the textbooks are finally adopted, the teachers' extra efforts over the past three years will be for naught. That's assuming the district follows through with the textbook adoption, as there were those on the school board in favor of waiting to see if Becky Lockhart's technology inititiative went through, which would have provided funds to purchase computers on wheels and accompanying digital textbooks.
    Math teachers at our school have been experimenting with the Kahn Academy. Science teachers and English teachers are winging it and hoping for the best.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 15, 2014 4:59 p.m.

    Are teachers prohibited from giving handouts that clearly show all concepts being taught? Couldn't those handouts include website references for further study?

    Schools tell us that they need more money. Teachers tell us they need smaller classes and more resources. What we really need are people who think. Those of us in the business world have learned how to think through a problem and then selecting the best practical solution. We don't waste time dreaming of what we could do if we had more money. We have learned that results count.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 15, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    I too am an engineer and have tried to help fix math education. The math education community has lost their way. Its very sad. Perhaps someday the damage that has been done will be fixed, I have very little faith that this will be done anytime soon.

  • slcdenizen Murray, UT
    June 15, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    The biggest obstacle for improving our educational system is parental involvement. On one side of the spectrum there are the absent parents that don't prepare their children to learn. On the other are the intrusive parents that feel obliged to hand hold the teachers and question motives and agenda, always citing their own education as sufficient credentials. Not sure which set of parents is more infuriating.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    June 15, 2014 12:33 p.m.

    Hooey, math teaching failures started long before Common Core. Using Glenn Becks talking points to push a private education onto the populace is as transparent as it can be. For years, especially in Utah, we have been giving education lip service. Using retired coaches to teach geometry or an English teacher to attempt to explain why math is important is as old as one room school houses. Just remember for every child you push to the side with your rhetoric, you add one more space at the point of the mountain.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 15, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    Oh, are we down to common core again on our "bash education" batting rotation already? Wow, we sure did cycle through, teacher tenure, teacher unions, merit pay, etc. real fast! I guess now for the next few weeks we'll have to endure letters like these and op-eds from journalists who haven't spent a single day in a Utah classroom.

    Why doesn't this paper ever interview teachers? Why don't they ever actually visit utah classrooms and do any research?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 15, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    Winglish claims to be a teacher. Hmmmmm. May I ask where and in what district because he or she has written is simply not entirely true.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 15, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    How many times has this letter writer talked to the teacher?

    How many times has this student gone in before or after school with questions?

    School involves hard work. Some people think that they can just cruise through school. They can goof off with friends during class time and then just wave a magic wand on their homework and it'll be finished.

    Rather than you doing your student's homework and blaming common core, why don't you teach your student to pay attention in class and work hard before and after school asking questions?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 15, 2014 7:31 a.m.

    It's textbook publishers pushing some new agenda. It's not common core.

    Textbook publishers, like car manufacturers, must come up with some new gadgets and gizmos as they try to outshine their competitors. College education professors must try to devise some new innovative curriculum every year or so. They sell it to the publishers. In turn, the publishers send out slick salespeople to convince school districts or state education textbook committees that this newest nonsense will solve every educational challenge the state or district faces.

    It's not common core.

    It's big money.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    June 15, 2014 7:15 a.m.

    Failure to provide a math textbook is a huge problem that many, many schools are facing. You are correct to blame the Common Core adoption, as all math courses have been forced to adopt the new curriculum. Meanwhile, school districts have to wait for publishers to create and perfect textbooks that align with the new curriculum. Simultaneously, several classes of students are missing out on resources for learning (i.e. textbooks, teachers who have taught the specific class/curriculum before, valid assessments, etc.)
    This mess is compounded by pressure to move to digital curriculum rather than the traditional textbook. The school districts are spending time and money studying and experimenting with various types of computerized math programs. Legislators are fighting over whether or not to provide funding for needed technology while failing to provide funding for basic textbooks. The Common Core adoption has been a disaster.
    I am a teacher. It's sad that I have to apologize for the actions of those who control my profession. I'm sorry, friends. Most teachers I speak to would return to their textbooks and familiar curriculum tomorrow, no questions asked. Others would just like a textbook, period.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 15, 2014 1:01 a.m.

    Oh baloney. The problem with math books for years is that old engineers write them, and everyone knows engineers can't write.

  • Henderson Orem, UT
    June 15, 2014 12:11 a.m.

    No textbooks provided?

    Sounds like a problem with funding to me.