You Won’t Believe The Method That Common Core Is Using To Teach Our Kids Subtraction


eugenedw's picture

I have some doubts about the reliability of the site from which this article comes - it seems steeped in the culture of paranoid conspiracy theories and stuff like that. But let me take the information on face value.

Although I am a school teacher myself, I am somewhat reluctant to comment seeing as I am not formally qualified in education. I am instead qualified in the subjects I teach. I have to say, with that first example, I cannot make head or tails of the method they are using to arrive at the answer.

On the whole, I think it is a perfectly good idea for kids to understand positional notation, and be able to break numbers into bits and pieces, but the way they do it here seems to me extremely convoluted and indeed incomprehensible. In my classes, kids are expected to be able to do two digit addition and subtraction in their heads, and with enough practice doing that, you quickly develop an ability to break apart numbers into convenient chunks all by yourself.

And the notion that any answer will do, as long as the student can come up with some reason for it, is just daft. I expect my students to know their multiplication and division tables. Some of these are already tricky enough to remember; we really need not confuse them even further.

Not being qualified in education, I am reluctant to criticize the presumed experts too much, but it seems to me they are over-complicating things. My older brother taught me to read and write when I was six and he was ten. I.e. teaching kids literacy and numeracy is not rocket science. So why all the grand theories and complicated methods and huge bureaucracy? It doesn't seem to make any sense.

The old methods, which are now suddenly so bad, produced generations of fine scientists and engineers. I have to wonder why we need to change everything now. The whole issue may well be a fruitful research subject for an investigative reporter. Here in South Africa, a lot of the government's education policy seems to be quite deliberately designed to keep people dumb, and to create ways in which kids who fail a grade can nevertheless be passed onto the next grade. We have become the world's major producer of illiterate and innumerate (and plain useless and quite unemployable) school leavers.

The whole thing seems very weird, but there may be all manner of politics behind it that may be worth investigating.