One day, a cave man put his interesting rock down next to another interesting rock. And something happened. An idea began to percolate in the depths of his tiny underdeveloped brain. “Hurg! Gurp!” he exclaimed! He had more rock!
He scooped up his treasure and ran to the next cave where his buddy was chillin by the fire; “Hurg! GURP!” he explained to his buddy and set the rock next to the other rock to demonstrate his cleverness. “Meh…” said his buddy. And buddy got up and set down his rock, and another rock, and another rock.
“Derp!” said the first cave man. His buddy had more more rock. It didn’t look the same as his more rock. So he hoiked up his loincloth, stuck out his tongue and decided he would have to give each more rock it’s own name. “Hurr…Dee…Durr” as he pointed to each rock in his buddy’s collection. Then he did the same for his- “Hurr..Dee……” and then, sweat pouring off his slopey brow, he gathered all the more rock together and declared “Hurr…Dee…Durr…Dum……Doh!”.
The second cave man took Hurr rock and bonked the first cave man on the head and wandered off.
Not much has changed about Math since then.
Well… until recently.
We are one curriculum change away from teaching kids that “the answer is whatever you feel it should be! If you want 2+3 to equal watermelon, then that’s just fine little Bobby! Good for you!”
For the moment however, the child has been coming home with an increasingly frustrating amount of unfinished math work all to do with guesstimating. Yep. “Use any one or two of these hundred vague strategies to estimate the answer to this question”
I get the point- they’re trying to teach kids “better” ways to solve more complicated problems. But where are the basics? I did the basics. Husband did the basics- and so did just about every parent out there with school aged children.
Remember Math Drills? The teacher would set the clock and you had one or two or five minutes to stumble through and get as many as you could. And eventually, if you made any effort at all, when someone asked you what’s 7×8, you knew, without counting on your fingers or outright having a STROKE that the answer was 56.
NOW, though, ask your 5th grader what’s 7×8, and they go through their little arsenal of half baked “strategies” and tell you “umm… it’s about 60”
Well, at this rate, “about 60” is how old I will be when my child will be able to move out of the house. Because without knowing how More Rock caveman and buddy caveman have together, higher education is but a dream.
Except I refuse to just sit by while the school system screws up with their “everyone must finish the race” policy. I know my kid is smart enough to know the difference between getting by, failing, and success. And emotionally mature enough to survive if he’s told that he is failing/losing/wrong.
So at home, we’ve started doing… (you guessed it!) MATH DRILLS. Five measly minutes a day, and none of the answers involve the words “About” or “Watermelon”. College, here we come!