Messy Modern Math

Back in January, Sprittibee had a post about modern math, including a link to a very interesting YouTube clip by M.J. McDermott. Because my boys were in public school through the 5th grade, I was somewhat familiar with some of this "reformed math." While my kids didn't start out with it, it was being phased in during their elementary career.

I came face to face with it when my then-4th grade son sat down to do his math homework one night and I was completely unable to help him. It was not, however, because I'm bad at math. Quite the contrary, I've always enjoyed math, was in advanced classes and honors algebra. Helping my kids with math homework had never been an issue.

But here was my son with his 4th grade math which used a new method of multiplication. Contrary to all math texts I'd ever used, this was merely a workbook, so it did not contain pages with actual illustrations and instructions for said method. Since it was very new to my son, he couldn't exactly explain to me how it was supposed to work. I ended out going into his class the next morning and letting his teacher know that he did not complete his homework because he didn't know how to do it and I was utterly lost. The teacher chuckled knowingly and informed me that I could have a copy of the "reference book" (the one where they actually teach these methods) to keep at home for future homework help.

The remainder of the year went relatively okay and my son ended with decent math grades. He only had one more year at public school until I began to homeschool him.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a mom from my church who has homeschooled her children a number of years and one of her children is currently in a public school where they use this wonderful new math. It seeems that essays are a regular part of modern math. And the explanation for "how" you got your answer is of more value than the actual answer.

Wow! Is that brilliant, or what? How does this prepare a person for life as an adult? Can you imagine telling your boss, "Gee, I'm sorry Mr. Johnson, I realize my final figures may not have been exactly right, but let me show you how I got there." I don't think Mr. Johnson will really care one iota! A well-worded report won't make up for losses incurred by someone who doesn't know how to perform math functions. Or what about your tax return? "Gee, IRS, I don't know why you don't agree with me. Let me email you my essay on how I came up with you owing me $5,000, because I'm just sure that I don't owe you $2,000." Yeah, that'll really fly.

I am not opposed to finding ways to help our children learn. But it was very eye-opening to watch Ms. McDermott's video. Some of these methods seem to be confusing and leave a lot of room for error.

I think what has surprised me the most about all of this is that math is one area I really would never have seen changing to such a great degree. I mean it's based on concrete facts, black and white data. But that's when it clicked. This is a spiritual issue. Satan is using our culture to blur the lines of truth and fact. Once that happens, there are no absolutes. But math and is made up of absolutes. Two plus two is always four. So it should come as no surprise that math is being messed with. Because if being right just means you came up with a good explanation, you are no longer accountable nor responsible for the end result. This is just one more way to try and erase absolute truth. One more attempt to push God out of our country. And one more reason to take a stand and homeschool my boys and teach them THE truth.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32


Gina said...

I watched this video awhile ago. Several years ago our school district went to this sort of math. Our neighbors had to attend a training session prior to the start of school so they could help their daughter with homework. A large focus of the new math method here is teaching calculator skills. Now how hard is it to operate a calculator?!

Dianne - Bunny Trails said...

Isn't that crazy? First of all, that parents should have to be "trained" to help with homework, and second that so much time would be spent teaching "calculator usage." Good grief!

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