29 September 2014

Common Core Math Rant

By now, you've all seen it: the supposed letter from the supposed engineer who was so flummoxed by his child's math homework that he wrote a smart-assed letter to the child's teacher. He made especially sure to emphasize that he was an engineer and couldn't figure this newfangled, crazy math out. I would like to know what the last thing this dingus "engineered." A birdhouse? A piece of IKEA furniture? THIS is exactly our country's problem. Our "engineers" (aka people who are supposed to be using science, math and technology to invent shit to solve our problems) ...can't figure out how to solve a problem. 

Let this stay-at-home mom who has only gone to a few years of art school teach you how it's done. There is this thing called THE INTERNET. You can log on through your COMPUTER. From here, you can do one of two things:

a. Google the problem, or the math concept and - voila! - choose whether to read about it or watch YouTube videos on how to understand it.

b. Email your child's teacher and ask him or her how to do the problem. Then, ask the teacher to point you to some websites or tutorials so your child can better understand the concept. 

BLAMMO. We've done both and achieved success. And I didn't even go to engineering school. 

You see, folks, like it or not, Common Core math homework is here. Oh, but "I don't like change!" and "Obama!" and "My little kid was crying!" and "He/She is so unmotivated now because gold stars are no longer coming out his/her ass every time he/she farts."

Too bad, pussies. In life, this is what we call "a challenge." I, for one, am not teaching my kids that the moment something gets hard, we should blame the f*cking President and give up. No. My kids are learning that it's okay to cry and throw our pencils - for a second. Then we take a small break, a breath, and maybe even have a cookie (mom gets a shot of whiskey), then we get our ass back to work and solve the problem. Each time we do this, it reinforces my kids' resiliency, and teaches them they can, in fact, do it. Plus, they learn about math in ways I was never exposed to.

I was taught the school of rote memorization. This worked out for a while, because I can remember things pretty well. Social security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, birthdays. I got it. But then something happened as I got older. My brain started jettisoning information it deemed irrelevant to make room for all the new information I was required to hold as a mom of three, and now... I don't know how to do anything without my calculator. Sure, I got decent grades. Then I gave up on math mid-High School because I didn't really grasp it. I only memorized tricks to get answers. Geometry was great because it was visual. After that, I realized I was in over my head and quit. Now I don't math. 

I don't want this to happen to my kids.

Whether your kid has good mathematical fluency depends on a few factors. They may take a shine to it, they might not. At least this way, they have the opportunity to understand how numbers work together instead of just memorizing sequences that will be lost by the time they are 30. 

If your kid is a total basket case, measuring their worth on grades and pats on the back instead of actually LEARNING, that's not common core's fault. If your kid falters, teach them how to take a breath, get back up and solve the problem. Don't sit there and cry/complain with them that this is too hard to instantly perfect. Don't blame teachers and the government in front of your kids and on social media to feel vindicated. Because, let me tell you something. You and your child will get overtaken by the hungry hordes of students from all across the globe who will drink your kid's milkshake, then charge you for it later. 

This rant has little to do with my feelings of Common Core in general, and NOTHING to do with my feelings on our education system. This is only about how I feel Americans seem to boo-hoo, point fingers, and give up, instead of using a little resourcefulness and ingenuity to figure out how to solve problems. All people like this so-called "engineer" care about is the easy A and not about having children who can independently problem solve. This scares me. Our world is globalizing. Our economy and the things that sustain us are constantly in flux. If we refuse to adapt to change and teach a generation of kids to just hole up and blame others when things get hard (sounds like Congress now, really) ... guys, all the dreams and ammo and freedom we cherish won't save us. 

Now quit your shit. Get up, set a good example for your kids and teach them how to succeed when the going gets tough. 

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