The “Angry Mother Destroys Common Core” internet meme got my goat when I browsed the comments section. I grant that the actual meme problem was overbearing (it’s the “write a letter to Jack” about subtraction error using the number line). But in the comments I saw a lot of complaints about how the number line approach was not the fastest way to the answer, and thus a confusing waste. Not those commenters’ faults in a way; they are just sticking with the one-right-way paradigm about math they were taught back in the day.

So I yielded to temptation and uploaded a response comment on the meme’s thread, sharing here for (I hope) your amusement:

Apparently to many folks, the Fastest way to get to The Answer is the Point of math. Here are 9 ways to go faster:

1) Memorize lots of formulas – as many as you can.

2) Once it seems to you like one of your formulas can be applied, run it.

3) Even for addition, use a calculator (We all have one in our phones, sweet!)

4) Download a powerful calculator that has lots of formulas pre-coded for you to just punch in a few #’s. Less memorizing!

5) Have your mom do the problem for you (that’s faster, right?)

6) Have your mom just give you the answer (now we’re getting fast!)

7) Have your smartphone solve it (it knows more than Mom!) http://www.nydailynews.com/…/new-photomath-app…

8) Don’t answer the question – heck what difference does it make if you answer someone else’s canned math question anyway?

9) Don’t even bother taking a math class and save yourself years of grief – other people know how to do the math that you can’t do with a calculator or app anyhow, right? And aren’t there lots of people to tell you they never broke out a binomial or even an ‘x’ in their worklife, ever, so what a waste?

Oh, and now that speed has been served, please enjoy your trip into the real world after school, where people get good pay if they can solve real problems via pattern recognition, efficient problem abstractions, and a myriad of hierarchical solution methods, using logical thinking. Within a few months of hiring on, managers know who can solve problems and who is weak. Calculators don’t cut it.

Oh yeah one more thing: in the real world there is no 1 right answer in the back of the book.

My kids will see your kids out in the world competing for jobs. Good luck to them all!

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It is however quite amazing that out there in the real world there are a lot of people who solve real problems using pattern recognition, abstraction and logical thinking and who left school with an intense dislike of math. They must have got their ideas from somewhere else.

I think the CCSS math is good, but doesn’t go far enough, due to the apparent necessity to have daily tests !

Good point! Thanks! Expounding further: I don’t mean to imply that formal study of math in school is the only way that a person can gain those skills. I wonder also if the intense dislike for math necessarily means that they didn’t gain some significant amount of their skills in pattern recognition etc. from the 11 (or more) years they sat in those math classes they disliked. And it certainly might be that those folks you point out, who may be innately strong at pattern recognition etc., are the same kids who get the most exasperated by dry rote-learned math procedures. But however they acquired them, at least they ended up with and use those skills.

Certainly there are some other people who are *not* strong in those skills, and could be much stronger. Read any Yahoo News comments and get afraid, very afraid! What I am proposing is that study of math *should* help them get stronger, and what I am saying is that if people look at math as an empty exercise in thoughtless and disconnected formulaic right-answer-getting, they are probably not getting the logic etc. skills they should be getting from all those year studying “math.”

Addon thought: ultimately there should be no need for ‘daily tests,’ or any what-I-just-studied tests, as the process of going through the (digital) curriculum itself generates the desired quantitative learning measures. For example, did you ‘play’ the digital content level successfully, such that the next level of the curriculum opened up for you? If so, you have been ‘assessed’ on, and passed, that content at that time. Assessing for longer term retention is another matter.