Here’s how to tell if your kids are being taught reform math by Robert Craigen and Barry Garelick.
“In the past students were taught by rote; we teach understanding.” First, ‘rote’ literally means ‘repetition’ — and this is a good idea, not a bad one. Second, it is simply false that teaching was without understanding — by design, in any case — in the past. There have always been teachers who taught math poorly or neglected to include a conceptual context.
. . . Under reform math, students are required to use inefficient procedures for several years before they are exposed to and allowed to use the standard method (or “algorithm”) — if they are at all. This is done in the belief that the alternative approaches confer understanding to the standard algorithm. . . . But this out-loud articulation of “meaning” in every stage is the arithmetic equivalent of forcing a reader to keep a finger on the page, sounding out every word, every time, with no progression of reading skill. Alternatives become the main course instead of a side dish and students can become confused — often profoundly so.
If you hear references to “drill and kill,” “the guide on the side not the sage on the stage” or “just-in-time learning,” it’s reform math, they write. Praise for ambiguity, flipping, group learning and “making students think like mathematicians” also are danger signs, they write.
“We use a balanced approach” means “go away.”
Many educators are interpreting Common Core to mean fuzzy math, says Garelick in a Heartland interview.