This Sort Of Thing Makes My Head Hurt

Dr. Marty Nemko posted an article at the Daily Caller on Friday about the Common Core standards (and curriculum) that is currently being debated in many states.

The article includes a few examples of math problems included in the Common Core:

This is from the Common Core Standards for the 5th grade. All students are required to:

Generate two numerical patterns using two given rules. Identify apparent relationships between corresponding terms. Form ordered pairs consisting of corresponding terms from the two patterns, and graph the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane. For example, given the rule “Add 3″ and the starting number 0, and given the rule “Add 6″ and the starting number 0, generate terms in the resulting sequences, and observe that the terms in one sequence are twice the corresponding terms in the other sequence. Explain informally why this is so.

In the 8th grade, the Common Core requires all students to:

Solve systems of two linear equations in two variables algebraically, and estimate solutions by graphing the equations. Solve simple cases by inspection. For example, 3x + 2y = 5 and 3x + 2y = 6 have no solution because 3x + 2y cannot simultaneously be 5 and 6.

In the 9th grade:

Prove theorems about lines and angles: vertical angles are congruent; when a transversal crosses parallel lines, alternate interior angles are congruent and corresponding angles are congruent; points on a perpendicular bisector of a line segment are exactly those equidistant from the segment’s endpoints.

Lest you think I cherry-picked, here is the link to all the standards, K-12. Throughout, they are remarkably arcane and irrelevant in the real world.

I have no idea what they are trying to do to our children, but it seems to me that learning two plus two and related facts might be much more useful. When I look at the math curriculum of Common Core, it looks like ti was designed by an English major. That is not to knock English majors, but there are some people who will not grasp basic math regardless of what you do to it (I had that problem with physics).

I understand that we live in a complicated, computerized world, but I firmly believe that memorization of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication facts builds a good foundation for learning mathematics. Common core does not build that foundation–it eschews memorization. When you don’t have a good foundation, the building collapses. I fear that we are about to collapse the American educational system by introducing Common Core. Our educational system is not perfect, but I believe that Common Core will make it worse–not better.

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