Monday, April 21, 2014

Common (Sense) Core?


Over at a site called The Truth, which I've otherwise not explored, there's a piece about how Common Core is "dumbing down" American kids (I noticed the piece because Mary Lou Seymour picked it for inclusion in today's edition of Rational Review News Digest).

The name of the piece is "You Won't Believe The Method That Common Core Is Using To Teach Our Kids Subtraction."

The piece opens up with a picture purporting to explain the "old" way and the "new way."

But when I look at the "new way," it doesn't look very new at all.

In point of fact, it is at least 31 years "old."

How do I know? Because it was 31 years ago, when I was 16, that my first employer showed it to me and insisted that I use it, rather than the then new-fangled electronic cash register's "automatic" function, to count out change to customers.

Let's say that a customer's purchase came to $1.37, and the customer handed me two dollar bills.

I would count (into my hand) three cents to get from $1.37 to $1.40, then another 10 cents to $1.50, then another 50 cents to $2, and hand the customer that amount -- 63 cents.

Worked every time.

And in fact that's usually how I handle subtraction problems in my head to this very day. If you ask me what 5,000 minus 3,147 is, I'm not going to pull out a piece of paper, stack the numbers on top of each other and so forth. I'm going to count up, adding (in my head) 3, 50, 800 and 1,000 to get 1,853. That's what I just did. And whaddayaknow, when I check it on my handy-dandy calculator, I get the same result.

Now, once again, I'm not trying to come off as supportive of "Common Core." I don't approve of government education at all, let alone a centralized set of standards for kids living across broad geographies and with great likely differences in future careers and such. But it looks to me like this critique of Common Core is kind of stupid.
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