## Wednesday, May 7, 2014

### Common Core Problems, Part 4

By Professor Doom

There is another issue to Common Core, possibly even more dangerous than making addition and subtraction so complicated that students will learn to become afraid of it long before they learn how to do it. The language is being changed, with a marked tendency towards lack of clarity and added complication. A Cheat Sheet, translating old phrases to new, is provided.
Let’s look at the changes:

“word problem” is now a “math situation”

I’m serious. First, note how the “old way” is three syllables, and the new way will use five syllables—high-falutin’ language is a sign of eduspeak, and this really emphasizes the theme of added complication for negligible benefits.

The whole point of word problems is establishing the relationship to the way we usually approach reality (word problem) to abstract world of mathematics. Calling word problems “math situations” actually breaks down this bridge, a big step backwards into making math into just math…with no relationship to the real world.

“Carry the one” is now “Regroup ten ones as ten”

Again, more words for the same concept. I’ve already addressed in the previous essay how the new method adds complication as well as separates the parent from the child. Neither of these are desirable.

“Borrow” is now “take a ten and regroup it as ten ones”

Again, more words for the same concept. Incidentally, the correct phrase should be “…break it down to ten ones”, since you’re breaking the ten apart. More syllables have been added literally for the sake of adding more syllables here.

Again, more syllables for no reason.

“subtract” is now “decrease”

I guess they couldn’t find a more complicated word for “subtract.” Perhaps “dis-addify”? I poke fun, and I admit that “increase” and “decrease” do at least sound more related than “add” and “subtract”…but I don’t see the net gain for the change in vocabulary.

“More than/Fewer than” is now “Compare”

It may seem like here we have a simplification, but the new word rather muddies the issue, and isn’t really a direct translation. “I have more than you” is meaningful. “I have compare you” doesn’t work, and even if it did, it doesn’t convey if I have more, or less, than you.

“How do you know?” is now “Evidence”

Again, this strikes me as a confusing translation. I just don’t see the point here, although of all the changes, this one, despite being confusing, is probably the least wasteful.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough how devastating it will be to separate the children from the parents like this.

“…When literacy was first abandoned as a primary goal by schools, white people were in a better position than black people because they inherited a three-hundred-year-old American tradition of learning to read at home by matching spoken sound with letters, thus home assistance was able to correct the deficiencies of dumbed-down schools for whites. But black people had been forbidden to learn to read under slavery, and as late as 1930 only averaged three to four years of schooling, so they were helpless when teachers suddenly stopped teaching children to read, since they had no fall-back position…”

“…Back in 1952 the Army quietly began hiring hundreds of psychologists to find out how 600,000 high school graduates had successfully faked illiteracy. Regna Wood sums up the episode this way:

After the psychologists told the officers that the graduates weren’t faking, Defense Department administrators knew that something terrible had happened in grade school reading instruction. And they knew it had started in the thirties. Why they remained silent, no one knows. The switch back to reading instruction that worked for everyone should have been made then…”

Much like the passage above, there’s considerable evidence of the devastation possible when children are separated from their families, so that only the teacher in the public school can “help” the child. This will be the true disaster of Common Core; already Americans are basically innumerate in many things, when these new “standards” come up, there will be no fall back for most families, to teach their children the necessary things (like basic addition) that will no longer be taught properly in schools.

So far, I’ve identified three ways Common Core fails: by making the simple into something complicated, by minimal practice, and by devastating a generation of children by further separating them from their families. Alas, it fails in yet another way.

Using a longer words for the same concepts is foolish, and perhaps this will be the one time in history separating children from parents will be a good idea, but what about simple practice of skills? In looking over the worksheets, I see there is minimal rote practice…what little skill building is in Common Core is minimally reinforced, further dooming the student. Even if he somehow figures things out, he’ll have no opportunity to truly learn.

It’s almost as though the people involved with this don’t have human children: a human child needs to be told most everything many times, and repetition is a key part of learning. Repetition is not a part of Common Core, as near as I can tell; that’s a shame, because that means learning will not be a part of Common Core.

But wait, there’s more.

The last failure is trying and failing to teaching all this underlying theory to small children is going to delay things quite a bit. Just as much of higher education today is simply high school material repackaged for a higher price (over 90% of community college courses are identical or weaker than what is taught in high school), so too will the middle school material of Common Core simply be what used to be taught in the first few years of school, just delayed. What used to be taught to 6 year olds will now be delayed until they’re 8 years old, literally throwing away those critical formative years. I don’t know if throwing away those formative years will be the biggest crime, but those years will be thrown away.

I’m not kidding:

Schools are already notorious for teaching very little considering how much time they imprison hold children. Common Core will subtract decrease the amount they’ll be teaching by TWO YEARS or more (note how “decrease” is the more appropriate word here than “subtract”, although Common Core says the words are the same).

Just as the overly theoretical method for fractions has created a generation terrified of fractions, delaying their ability to learn much math until college (if ever), so too will Common Core’s emphasis on theory first delay our children’s ability to perform basic math until college (if ever).

I realize I should just keep my mouth shut about this, since the disaster that Common Core will inflict on our children will provide ample job security for me in the future. But, it’s the right thing to do to try to prevent this disaster, even if doing so is not to my benefit.

Plenty of other educators are also taking the high road here…but not enough. What would happen if all the real teachers simply walked away from Common Core? Unfortunately, I fear it wouldn’t stop it. There are too many Educationists more than willing to sacrifice children for personal profit, and many of them are already in the schools.