Monday, February 29, 2016

Roadtrip interlude

Day 141 – 236

11/26 – 2/29/16

Holiday season and the beginning of the new year at home. Ronnie went back on the road right after Christmas but I had an opportunity to test for rank in both iaido and kendo at the end of February; so we discussed it and I stayed to practice, then test, then rejoin Ronnie on the road.

And now we’re there. I did my tests on Saturday 2/27, passed both, and now I’m packing to catch a plane to Tulsa on Tuesday morning, 3/1. Ronnie will pick me up there and we’ll drive to Siloam Springs where we’ll be staying for a while.

Now that we’ll be back on the road, I’ll starting doing daily posts again.

Welcome back to The Roadtrip!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Common Core Math

I see so much complaining about how evil Common Core math is. This is usually accompanied by a video of someone doing a simple math problem using the “classic” algorithm most of us learned versus the CC approach, which looks complicated. Don’t we all prefer the classical method we learned? It’s so simple, so easy, so intuitive.

Really? Try to think back to when you were taught this algorithm for number manipulation. Remember how long the teacher spent teaching you this particular technique? Weeks and weeks. Before you spent all that time learning that method, you had no idea how or why it worked. You probably still don’t. You were taught a technique and told that it worked and saw that it worked and you spent all those weeks learning it and now it’s intuitive.

No. It’s something you learned. And it took you a long time to do so. That’s the antithesis of “intuitive.”

The way you learned “math” was simplistic, mechanical, and merely one algorithm for doing basic number manipulation. It was not intuitive. It was not the only way to do those things. It was not even the best or easiest or simplest way to do them.

And you hated it. The statistics are inescapable. Americans hate math. They detest it. Why?

Because of the way they (we) were taught in school.

Please think about that for a minute. Maybe even two. We (generically) hate math. Because of the way we were taught it. Accept the truth of that. Nonetheless, when someone comes along and wants to change the old way to something which is more intuitive, which tries to deal with the underlying concepts rather than simply teaching monkey skills, we (not me, but the generic “we”) lash out against it.

“Look how stupid it is.”

“It’s too complicated.”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“The way we learned was intuitive and easy.”

“Why change what works?”

Really, people? All of this pushback is insane. We hated the way we were taught math. We hate math. We resist anything to do with math. But somebody comes along and wants to do something about that and the level of resistance goes instantly to infinity.

The Common Core math approach is not a panacea. It is not perfect. But it attempts to address what is and has been an utter and complete failure. For generations. Why not give it a chance? It cannot be worse than what we’ve been doing.

Literally. Seriously.