A Teacher Speaks Out Against Common Core Math: James Schuls   Leave a comment

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/james-shuls-why-we-need-school-choice/

In a recent Education Week article, math teacher James Schuls tells his story.   Here’s a small portion of the excellent, informative article:

“Walking into my son’s school to talk math curriculum to his teacher and principal intimidated me. It kind of felt like I had challenged my son’s teacher on the content of what she was teaching and now I was being sent to the principal’s office. Now, I am not an average parent and I cannot help wonder what a parent who is not a professional educator might feel like under such circumstances…. Still, I marched into the meeting full of optimism. My goal was singular: to make sure my children could use standard algorithms to solve math problems.

The teacher explained that the district was using Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) as the method to teach the Common Core State Standards. I was a bit confused. In the CGI book, the authors clearly stated CGI was a professional development program and I knew that Common Core was the name of the standards being implemented in the state. So I inquired where the curriculum came from, to which the reply was the Common Core…

I realized that I could spend all day going down that rabbit hole, but I remembered my goal so I asked point blank: could my son use a standard algorithm to solve a math problem in his class. The teacher responded, “We don’t do the algorithm in class.”

… I pushed the issue and asked if she would count it wrong if he explained he knew it was a difference problem, he stacked the numbers to subtract the ones and then the 10 and was left with the difference between the two numbers. She indicated she would not count this wrong, but she would make him show a way that he could demonstrate that he knew what he was doing. The principal also responded that he would have to illustrate his understanding.

My kids’ school, by their own admission, had not taught my son or daughter how to solve any math problems in nearly half of the school year. Anything he had learned, he had discovered for himself.

And what was perhaps most galling was their certainty that he could not use the standard algorithm, even though they had no idea where he was going or how he should get there. The rest of the conversation was not helpful.

They threw out buzzwords such as “discovery learning,” but could never explain to me that all of these other methods that they endorsed were acceptable, while the standard algorithm was not.”   – James Schuls

Read the rest of the story:  http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/james-shuls-why-we-need-school-choice/

Posted January 18, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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