2+2= deep learning

In The School of Deep Understanding, Diana Senechal satirizes the gee-whiz discovery of “deep learning” in Common Core math classrooms.

The teacher, Gideon Pelous, buzzed about the room like a shimmering dragonfly while the children—second-graders from the deep inner city—discussed the essence of numerals in small groups.

Before the Core, students would be taught that two plus two equals four, but they would never know why.

Now, everything had changed.

“I just had a realization,” said Shelly Thomas, arranging four rectangular blocks in front of her. “I used to think that numerals were quantities. I was trying to figure out what the curve on the 2 meant, and what the double curve on the 3 meant. I even tried measuring them with my ruler. Then I had the insight that numerals aren’t quantities, but rather symbols that represent quantities.”

“You mean to say—“ sputtered Enrique Alarcón as he seized a crayon.

“Yep,” she continued. “This 1 here represents a unit of something. It can be a unit of anything. Now, when we say ‘unit,’ we have to be careful. That’s another thought that came to me, but I haven’t figured it–.”

“I have,” interrupted Stephanie Zill, banging on her Curious George lunchbox. “We use the word ‘unit’ in both a contextual and an absolute sense. That is, a unit is unchanging within the context of a problem, but it may change from problem to problem. Also, certain defined units, such as minutes and yards, have a predefined size that doesn’t change from one context to the next—until you consider relativity, that is.”

“Oh, I get it,” said Enrique. “So, this numeral 1 represents one unit, which could be a unit of anything, but within a given problem, the word “unit” does not change referent unless we are dealing with more than one kind of unit at once. Hey, what color crayon should we use: magenta or seaweed?”

“Magenta,” said Shelly.

Stephanie and Orlando go on to discuss the “sockiness” of socks to conclude that two pairs of socks equal four socks in the real world.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Educationally Incorrect says:

    Magenta goes beyond the colors that most men even know. That truly is higher order thinking.

    We could also combine such a lesson with advanced physics since someone did mention relativity!

    Also (getting so excited here), “relativity” is kinda like “relative”, so we can combine this with a lesson in social studies!

    *gasp*. *cough*…..just woke up from that dream that I’m still in ed school…..

    • Mark Roulo says:

      Magenta goes beyond the colors that most men even know. That truly is higher order thinking.

      Most of us (men) have *heard* of magenta. We just don’t use it ourselves because it is a *girl* color. Like fuchsia. And taupe. We prefer to stick to boy colors … the ones you find in the smaller (8 crayon) Crayola boxes … and maybe a few others.
       
      The key 8: black, blue, brown, green, orange, red, purple, yellow
       
      We also do pink, grey and white.

    • Thank you, Educationally Incorrect, for pointing out those exciting interdisciplinary connections!

      As for magenta, it has a distinguished history and identity. It is one of the primary colors of the subtractive CMYK color model. Oh, wait–subtractive–there’s another connection!

      It is also the name of a character in Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’m pretty sure that there’s an audience line that anticipates the mention of the word–something like, “What’s your favorite color?”

      About those Crayola boxes: I remember being fascinated by the 64-crayon boxes and the esoteric color names. Unfortunately the crayons broke quickly, so the big box had many bits at the bottom.

      • Mark Roulo says:

        I remember being fascinated by the 64-crayon boxes and the esoteric color names. Unfortunately the crayons broke quickly, so the big box had many bits at the bottom.

        You can eat those, you know …

  2. Jerry Doctor says:

    As I used to tell my students in Chemistry Lab:

    Pomegranate, watermelon, avocado… these are not colors. They’re foods. Just remember that your lab report will be graded by a man. Men only know eight colors.

  3. SuperSub says:

    Diana needs to be careful, her satire might end up being used by Core proponents…

  4. Fuschia (which is also known as hot pink) and Taupe (which is a shade usually reserved to hosiery these days) and mauve isn’t something I usually associate with guy colors.

    However, I’ve had a few women tell me that I look pretty nice when I wear a pink dress shirt, but that could also be the result of losing a fair amount of weight. I don’t think Diana will have Core proponents beating down her door.

    We used to use the broken crayons in elementary school as part of wax candles we made :)

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