Friday, September 5, 2014

Common Core Propaganda

Today in my facebook feed, there were FIVE references (so far) to this same "Common Core" video. Attached were numerous (sometimes thousands!) of comments about how Common Core math is dumbing down our kids, how this method is stupid, how people can't believe our kids are being taught this, etc. The funny thing is, all these "Common Core" math concept videos are just showing what kids have been learning for AGES and it's sad that parents have had no clue what their kids have been taught.

Before I go further and lose all my anti Common Core folks, I *am* against Common Core, simply for the fact that it is 100% about federal control of our schools. Even if they included in Common Core curriculum everything I agree with (didn't happen BEFORE Common Core, probably isn't happening now), I would be against federal control of our schools. I am against a federal agency tracking my children and keeping records of everything they say, do, or believe from the day they set foot in a school. Additionally, even if I agreed with everything included in the Common Core curriculum, what about when they change something? Am I supposed to believe that someone who doesn't even live in the same community knows what's best for my children?

That said, I believe the videos and pictures going around against "Common Core" are doing us all a disservice. First, they are improperly blaming Common Core for methods that have been used for years. Common Core did not invent any new way of doing anything! It simply took methods of teaching concepts that were already being used. Second, they are distracting us from the real problem, which I stated above, the federal takeover of schools. Here is the video that is making its rounds this week:

Now... most of the comments against this method are, "Why can't our poor, coddled kids just learn to memorize the facts like we had to?!" This is just a plain ignorant statement. As I've stated before in another post, people want to be so against Common Core, they don't really even pay attention to what's going on in the math, or they immediately "don't understand it." Either I'm just WAY better at math than most Americans, or having a teaching degree and learning numerous methods of teaching math allows me to see what they do not.

The method in the video has been around for ages. While that problem in particular is simple, use the same concept for a harder problem and it allows kids (and adults) to do mental math without writing anything down. For instance, if you need to add 59 + 13, can you see how looking at it like 60 + 12 is much easier to solve in your head? You would be using the same concept as in the video. Of course, anytime you first teach a new concept you use simple numbers like 9 + 6. And to the people who have said, (and I can't believe they did), "Well after they wrote all that down, I've already come up with the answer because I've memorized the fact," you are missing the point. This is not taught so that kids don't have to memorize "the nines." It's taught so they can do these things in their heads and NOT write anything down. Writing it down is how the method is taught, which is pretty useful for the visual learners, eh?

This video was clearly on a news program and is going viral on facebook. This makes me realize that it's possible that these "examples of Common Core" are now being used to make us forget what really IS wrong with Common Core. It's a sort of propaganda...a smoke screen if you will. Also known as a red herring, or wild goose chase. Don't fall for this. Don't start thinking that if we just remove a few "crazy math" teaching methods, Common Core will be okay. It's also bringing out all the parents whose kids were already attending failing public schools, as if Common Core is the reason they are failing (remember "No Child Left Behind"?)! Schools were already dumbing down our kids before Common Core, and NOW they have a problem. I guess that's a good thing. Nothing wrong with being more aware, but don't prove that your own school dumbed you down by falling for the wrong reasons.

As a side note, I have noticed that my Libertarian friends see the real issue with Common Core, my Republican friends share "I can't believe this new Common Core math!" memes to the point they go viral, and Democrats are largely silent. I'm going to leave you with that and let you think about it a minute.

Is it really about our kids, or politics?