We are not political. We are just reasonable. As a family we are probably a typical public school family with kids who excel in the system. Generally grades are good. Every now and then we see some 100% in TCAP categories. We diligently communicate with our teachers and we are very strict about completing homework and trying our best. Sounds like the model family any teacher would want? My wife and I are both public school graduates who are college educated. I have a chemical engineering degree. Math is my thing. And I enjoy helping my children with math homework. But, this week revealed to me a disturbing trend in math curriculum - vocabulary.
My son had been struggling. So we took on this week’s lesson with a little more hands-on approach and were puzzled with what we saw. On the math vocabulary list were “Constant of Variation” Defined as: a constant ratio in a direct variation AND “Direct Variation” Defined as: the relationship between two variable quantities that have a constant ratio.
This is absolute mush. Made up for the sake of introducing words into math. I have had plenty of math in my time, and have never heard of a "constant of variation" or "direct variation" in either engineering school or in my work as an engineer.
The text's authors have attempted to string together some meaningful math words to try to define a simple concept of proportion. The concepts of proportions, and functions and relationships are very vital in understanding algebra, but I think if I was a student I would be lost in the mush. I thought maybe I'm out of touch, but you can't even find these phrases defined in Wolframalpha. Is this what is meant by “common core aligned”? To integrate made-up words so we believe them to be true? Guess Wolframalpha is not aligned?
A big part of the problem, if I understand the issue, is that this common core initiative is pushing all this standardized mush onto the teachers and taking away all autonomy and creative skills the teachers bring to the class with their diverse students. Somehow the belief is that if we integrate language arts into math, we will somehow strengthen our language skills? Nice idea. But, not with made-up words. I wonder if I would have become an engineer if language arts were a part of my K-12 math education?
So here is my attempt to verbalize and over-explain in the common core style of math written expression:
“If you were to graph the creative flexibility afforded our highly educated and maximally qualified teachers over time with common core, you would find that both the first derivative of the function and, most alarmingly, the second derivative of the function, are negative. There is no point of inflection as the function approaches infinity (i.e., increasingly decreasing teacher autonomy, with no turnaround in sight.)”
Look at the actual list of vocabulary (in picture above). Some words are viable. But, don’t make up stuff just to make us think we are going deeper or to give our kids an excuse to write in math class.
If this what we have signed on to with Common Core, I now understand why so many parents are asking for its repeal. Parents who are really paying attention lose trust in the idea common core is better. I understand this curriculum has not been field tested. So it makes perfect sense to let teachers field test by plucking out the good curriculum content from this mush we have been given in the Pearson textbook and leave the made-up definitions out of mathematics.
-submitted by a concerned Papa Bear in Tennessee
Some other articles about Common Core:
- Why kids are struggling with Common Core Math:
- Sandra Stotsky: Common Core's math standards don't add up: http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140118/Opinion/140129877
- Journalist & Parent: Common Core Math Leaves Me Stumped: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/journalist-parent-common-core-math-leaves-stumped/
- Common Core: 3 * 4 = 11 is Okay (Youtube video):
3/10/14 UPDATE: Momma Bears has received many comments on this blog since we posted it. Some are from teachers who say this IS Common Core and some comments are from teachers who say it is NOT Common Core. Some teachers say they've never heard of these terms, some say they have them printed in their textbooks but don't teach them, others say they use them all the time. One teacher claims that this topic does not appear in Common Core standards until high school, so being in a 7th grade textbook, it was probably published before Common Core and is, therefore, not aligned with Common Core. One thing is for certain: there is a lot of confusion regarding Common Core and confusing math terms.