Do new math techniques actually make math harder?

We all know I am simply awful at math. However, I think they are teaching it differently now and it is actually making it harder to understand.

For example, I had never in my life heard or seen “lattice multiplication” until my daughter started doing it last year at school. They are doing it again this year. It takes up a heck of a lot of space and Rose now seems to have a hard time working a regular multiplication problem where the numbers are just placed on top of each other.  (I’m talking about double and triple digit multiplication.)

Simple rounding has also had a makeover – apparently if it’s on 5 you don’t necessarily round up any more. They now do something slightly different called front-end estimation. I have no idea what this is but it doesn’t follow the same rules as rounding.  (I found this math forum where another mom was frustrated by the new rules of front-end estimation. ) I’m just grateful they are out of that chapter because I am tired of fighting with Rose about the rules. (I need to go and sit in class so I can help with the homework.)

The other concept they are applying differently than when I was in school is the distributive property. We used to talk about in algebra with parenthesis.  However now they are using it for estimation purposes. So if you had a problem 500 x 36. You would the five times 36 and then add the zeros on.  (This I understand but we just never figured math problems this way.)

My girlfriend who is homeschooling this year is noticing similar trends. She is actually having to teach the lattice multiplication, which she was never taught in school either. They are also doing front-end estimation and she’s equally frustrated.

So moms and teachers have you been noticing the new math? Do you think the concepts make it easier or harder to actually do the problems? Can one of our teacher friends explain what’s up with the new methods?

59 comments Add your comment

DB

September 28th, 2010
1:09 am

We missed lattice multiplication, but I just looked it up and it looks really cool. It does seem to take up a lot of space compared to old-fashioned multiplication, though, with drawing that little box, adding up the numbers on the diagonals, etc. I don’t really see how the concepts of 10’s, 100’s, 1000’s, etc. are maintained when you’ve numbers going every which-a-way. But it is a cool trick.

This one is pretty cool, too –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwjt3cB_BMg&NR=1

And this one:
http://www.youtube.com/user/glad2teach#p/u/1/IIwlBjNLpjI

I love math tricks :-)

deidre_NC

September 28th, 2010
5:35 am

i hate math. im praying all the math i already took will suffice for any i need for my new degree. if not im screwed lol.

smh

September 28th, 2010
5:43 am

I agree that the new techniques make it harder for the kids. My older child (age 12) complains often that even though she gets the correct answer, she spend is required to recalculate showing the preferred method. She says the way she is being taught is much harder than if she is left to her own work. The challenge for parents is that we might explain homework in a way that makes sense to us but if the student does not turn in a paper that looks like what the teacher wants then meltdowns ensue. As long as the student understands the concept, who cares that the arrows, shapes or whatever are on the paper?

hlb

September 28th, 2010
6:01 am

I am not a fan of the “new” math that is being taught in my daughter’s school. To me it relies too much on tricks and convoluted ways to solve the problems. Additionally after doing some research on it, I found out that it doesn’t teach long division which worries me. I can’t imagine doing algebra without being able to do long division.

MomOf2Girls

September 28th, 2010
7:35 am

My kids are still learning the old-fashioned way. Yay!

Being a huge math junkie (nerd?) my whole life (did calculus problems for fun and relaxation in HS), I agree lattice multi looks like a great trick, like something you’d do in a logic book. However, it completely eliminates the concept of place value, which is critical. The FEE method is just plain silly, IMHO.

Good luck to you all :-)

JATL

September 28th, 2010
7:57 am

I dread getting to “new math” in the coming years. We’re still quite a ways away from it, but I excelled in math until 8th grade. Algebra and I just are not good friends, and I WILL blame being in the wrong class with the WRONG teacher, but that’s a whole different ball of wax. Anyway, I’m not an “advanced” math person, but I loved multiplication, division, fractions -all of that. What was wrong with multiplying things the way we were taught? Why add more steps and places to mess up? We did learn multiplication as you describe it with taking out the zeros first and then adding them in after you get your answer, and that’s always made multiplying and doing percentages in my head easier for me. Maybe by the time my kids get there, everything old will be new again!

motherjanegoose

September 28th, 2010
8:00 am

I can function in the every day math business world. I am am no help with my children’s HS/college calculus.

My best week, ( to me) was when I helped my HS daughter with an algebra problem, a poem and also taught her how to knit. MATH/LANGUAGE AND ARTS….LOL…that was a few yeas ago!

When I was taking a master’s level English class, with middle and HS teachers I was also barely keeping up as I had not done sentence diagramming in YEARS….Kindergartners are into CAPITALS AND PERIODS PLEASE!

I am just fine in my topic but that is about it…hahaha!

MyOpinion

September 28th, 2010
8:17 am

Considering I just learned lattice multiplication about five minutes ago, it is a cool concept if you can multiply from 0-9 without the aid of your fingers or a calculator. I learned to multiply 500 x 36 were you would the five times 36 and then add the zeros on at the end in grade school.

When teaching math, I believe that all methods should be taught to give the students different ways to solve the same type of problem. IMO, lattice multiplication was meant for problems that are triple digits or higher. Whereas old school multiplication would be best for one and two digit problems. However, both methods should be used to show the student that they will arrive to the correct solution regardless of which method they use. When teaching a specific method, it is important that students used the method that they asked to use.

As for the front end estimation, it is confusing if you do not learn all of the rules.

MyOpinion

September 28th, 2010
8:25 am

it is important that students used the method that they asked to use.

Should be: it is important that students used the method that they ARE asked to use.

RJ

September 28th, 2010
8:25 am

Lattice mutliplication, chunk it division, what next? Kids need to learn the basics of mathematics. The powers that be keep jumping on every bandwagon that comes along instead of simply dealing with the real issues of discipline and teaching the kids. Teachers are getting blamed for everything wrong in education, yet we have absolutely NO say so in what programs are implemented. Half the teachers don’t even know how or have little interest in teaching this “new” math. This is why charter and private schools are so appealing. With all the scripted reading lessons and new math being taught, it’ll be interesting to see how much kids today really know. I wouldn’t rely on this new math, I would teach my kids traditional math. Thankfully our Futlon County school hasn’t bought into it.

fred

September 28th, 2010
8:27 am

as a math teacher I always showed my students multiple ways to solve the same math problem. I always told them that I don’t care which method you use, just get to the right answer. I even had kids showing me new ways of thinking about math that I later incorporated into my teaching. Just like with most things in life, in a math problem there are multiple ways to get to the right answer, many paths, all of them equally valuable. as long as the student understood their method I was OK with that. Now sometimes I did push a certain method of solving because I knew that it would help with a concept down the line, but I always kept my mind open to new ways of solving a question, even if a kid went way out of the eay to get to the right answer

JATL

September 28th, 2010
8:39 am

@RJ -I also don’t understand why our schools are mandated to jump on new bandwagons. Basic math and grammar rules don’t change! Sometimes grammar rules evolve into slightly different usage acceptance, but nouns are nouns, verbs are verbs, etc. and mathematic principals don’t change! I agree that our teachers have it hard enough as it is without forcing a completely new way of doing their very subject area on them.

@fred – IMO, YOU are a good teacher. The kind of teachers and educational ideas we need are those that say -”Hey -in this case there are several ways to arrive at X, so pick the way that makes sense to you and use it.” It’s fine to expose them to all the ways -that is actually teaching and giving students a principle they can take with them through life! If a kid doesn’t like lattice multiplication, but can multiply like a champ and get the right answers, why on EARTH should they be penalized for not working through it in a certain way? Just another way we squash creativity and genius every day in our schools…

PhotoMomof4

September 28th, 2010
9:24 am

I absolutely HATE lattice multiplication. My oldest came home with that method and it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and I’m great with math. So far the next in line is doing multiplication the old fashioned way – in his head. At first his teacher made him show the method to work the problem, but once they figured out that he wasn’t using a calculator and could actually arrive at the correct answer, his teacher didn’t push to see his method. She is like @Fred and really is a good teacher.

penguinmom

September 28th, 2010
9:38 am

I agree with others that the lattice math seems like an interesting math trick but I can’t imagine using it for solving regularly since it takes up extra space and requires some front end drawing. Seems like you would need to have a ruler on hand just to solve a simple multiplication problem.

In my math classes, the main thing I want is for the students to show their work. If they can show how they got an answer, then I don’t care so much how they did it. Like @fred, the main exception to this is when I think they need to learn a particular way in order to make Future math easier. I don’t see where either Lattice math or FEE fits into that category.

@twg – don’t understand why your homeschooling friend is being forced to teach lattice math. If she’s homeschooling, then it seems like she should be able to teach whatever method she wants.

penguinmom

September 28th, 2010
9:44 am

okay, just looked at the cool math 4 kids website about lattice multiplication. One thing that stood out to me as a problem is that they have the kids multiplying left to right. This is opposite of regular long multiplication so the student is going to get confused if they ever try to go back and forth between them. Since order doesn’t really matter in lattice multiplication, I don’t see why they wouldn’t keep to the order of ‘old-school’ multiplying so that any transition between the two would be easier. It seems short-sighted.

If I was helping my kid with this, I would have them do the multiplying in the order you would for normal multiplying (i.e. multiply the ones column first). Once the whole lattice is filled in no one can tell what order you did it in so it shouldn’t affect their homework or tests.

JATL

September 28th, 2010
10:03 am

@penguinmom -the one part of your sentence, “multiplying left to right” made me shudder in regards to lattice multiplication! That hurts my head to even think about in regards to multiplication -kind of like driving a stick shift in the UK -just too many opposites!

LM

September 28th, 2010
10:37 am

Sounds like I missed the bus on this, whew! Don’t think I would have had the patience to re-learn how to do math and then teach to my daughter.

Since we moved so many times while I was growing up there were things I was not taught so I learned “tricks” to figure things out on my own. When I got to HS I had a teacher question how I got my answers, I tried to explain my method, he just shook his head and said as long as I understood what I was doing and could get the correct answer he was okay with my “L— Logic”.

LWA

September 28th, 2010
10:53 am

Sorry for the rant!!! I have this discussion/argument every month with friends, teachers, etc. Math, the language/science has not changed and yet, we make it so complicated.

I think lattice multiplication it Bull SH&T…

1. It does utilize the skills of ones, tens and hundreds. Skills that the kids have previously learned.

2. When my child wants to multiply 125 * 345 it doesn’t work. If we teach that you multiply the ones column, then the tens column, etc, that basic concept does not leave them. They are then able to multiply 4 numbers by 4 numbers.

Leave the tricks for when a kid masters the language of math.

3. It takes time away from the kids mastering the basic math concepts.

I don’t like the new math that is being taught in H.S. and I am considering moving away from the state b/c of it.

I do agree with estimating 500* 36. Yes, multiply 36 * 5 and add the zeroes. That makes sense. However, the kids should still know that you line them up and multiply the way we learned.

I don’t agree with Calculators in the class room. It handicaps the kids. I majored in Math and didn’t get a calculator until my sr. year of college.

Math has not changed in 100 years….. 2 * 2 is still 4. There are no new discoveries (that are applicable for a K-12 student). Why all of the changes???? 25 * 10 is 250. Why waste time making kids learn all of the techniques!!! I just don’t get it. Yes, if one child doesn’t get it, teach them a different way.

I hate the fact that the teacher wants the kids to do it their way like it is the only way. Just ask the question and be happy when you get the right answer.

Cammi317

September 28th, 2010
11:28 am

Yes it takes up too much time! I was sooooooooooooooo aggravated when my daughter first started learning the “new math”. I believe it was 2nd grade. My mind could not grasp why in the world they were having to go all around the world to get from point A to point B. I was even further aggravated by the fact that I was forced to learn those methods in order to explain to her where she may have gone wrong in her connotations. In the end, I made sure that she learned the way they wanted her to do so BUT I also taught her the old-fashioned way. Thankfully, when she got to 5th grade the teacher said she did not care what method they used to derive their answers as long as it was correct. No teacher has seemed to care since that time.

MyOpinion

September 28th, 2010
11:53 am

Lattice multiplication is very similar to the columns. Lattice multiplication takes about the same amount of time to solve. One problem is that students are not able to multiply from 0-9 without help. Another problem is if the person teaching lattice multiplication cannot solve it, the person learning will never solve it. The difference between column multiplication and lattice multiplication is that lattice multiplication only utilizes the ones’ and tens’ place while the column multiplication uses an infinite number of places. If Lattice is not taught to students utilizing the ones’ and tens’ place (what was previously learned), then it will be difficult to learn.

LongtimeEducator

September 28th, 2010
2:13 pm

I taught for 33 years; 25 of it was in third grade. Don’t even get me started on how ridiculous the math curriculum has gotten, and the crazy things they expect the teachers to teach. I have no problem with showing a variety of ways to get an answer, but the bottom line is there’s not enough hours in the day to teach the gimmicky stuff as well as the math they need to learn. That along with the standards based report card results in a lot of stressed out teachers trying to fit it all in.

abc

September 28th, 2010
2:18 pm

What you’re talking about is the simplest of arithmetic. No matter the method or shortcut used, it’s just a shortcut or method — 500 X 36 is still 500 added to the sum of itself 36 times. The method for arriving at the correct answer for an arithmetic problem is inconsequential.

Simple arithmetic like this is basic literacy. Let the teachers give your children the gift of literacy and butt out if you can grasp it yourself. It is neither more difficult nor easier; it is simple in any regard.

abc

September 28th, 2010
2:19 pm

that is, butt out if you can not grasp it yourself.

Atlanta Native

September 28th, 2010
2:41 pm

I have a degree in Biochemistry, I took 2 years of Calculus, I enjoy math games for relaxation (not soduko, though). The “new” math is complicated to me. I can “grasp” it, I just don’t want to touch it.

It is not a new idea, or a better one. It is one of the two places capitalism fails us (along with churches, along the same lines). Math is math. No new textbooks are needed regularly, just as classic literary works remain the same. For a publisher, that is a hard sell. Why buy a brand new set of books when the old ones are just the same? They need to maximize sales. If you want to sell a whole new bunch of your product each three years or so, you need to make it “new”. That is why there in “new” math, to get “new” profits for publishers. Same thing with the uninspired tripe the children read in English – it has to be “new” and copyrightable. Selling $40.00 new hardbound editions of Tom Sawyer is a tough sell. By selling “new” stuff, a company ensures a profit, at the cost of the taxpayers and the students and the schools can justify spending, since it is for “new” material. So sell new crap to bore and confuse our kids, and everybody is happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a small business owner and a capitalist through and through. However, it fails our schools in this area.

Richard

September 28th, 2010
2:53 pm

Ok, someone needs to help you people out.

1. I never heard of lattice multiplication either, but after about 0.5 seconds of looking at the picture in the link, its the same thing. They’re just writing it to seperate the tens digit.

2. The rounding has always been that way. Any high school science course teaches you to round based on the most significant digit. Go back to you Chemistry teacher if you don’t get it.

3. That application for distributive property is important. It lets you do complicated math in your head. You don’t always have paper and a pencil on you , and you should never have to pull out a calculator to do something like 12 x 35.

ms. obvious

September 28th, 2010
2:57 pm

It is a neat trick, but for holistic thinkers, it could be more difficult to grasp. I know for me that when I don’t get WHY something works a certain way, it makes it much more difficult to understand. It was easier for me to get it the old fashioned way because it made sense. This is bells and whistles which will leave the learner wondering WHY it works. If the teacher explains how and why it works, then maybe it will be okay. I think these kids need to learn both ways. Some may grasp this way better, and some may grasp the old fashioned way better, but any teacher who condemns a correct method that a student chooses to use is in fact a horrible teacher. If the standards require it, then the standards are horrible. We need to be open minded to our kids and students and teach both methods, and let them choose which method works best for them.

David S

September 28th, 2010
2:59 pm

How many more generations of children are going to be subjected to the esperimental whims of the clowns who run the government educational racket?

Didn’t everyone learn from the failure of look-say reading and the mass of illiterates it produced?

It is one thing if someone wants to explore the use of a trial technique but takes full responsibility and has full acountability for their decision, but such a description is the complete opposite of the government schools, where private businesses, prisons, and taxpayers have to pick up the slack for the failure to educate kids effectively.

Holly

September 28th, 2010
3:00 pm

From a teacher’s perspective, the purpose of the “new” math is to actually teach the reasoning behind most of the shortcuts that we have been doing in the “old” math. Then, once they write it all out in “expanded” or “lattice” format, they get the deeper meaning behind the problem solving rather than just learning the “tricks”. The newer math techniques have been proven to be highly effective in other countries. However, it is much harder to understand or teach if you haven’t been brought up learning that method. So, you “and I” just have to trust that the professionals know how to teach it–especially if you are one of the ones that say, “Math was not one of my best subjects”. Then, WHY would you be trying to tell the professionals how to teach it better?? Just saying.

mystery poster

September 28th, 2010
3:08 pm

Lattice multiplication is hardly new, it’s been around since the 1200s.

MannyT

September 28th, 2010
3:13 pm

Things change. Kids have to be ready for future, not the past…especially with STEM.

I didn’t grow up here, but I did lattice multiplication in the 1970s. It ain’t new. These days internet searches put almost everything at few seconds away. It is valuable for a teacher to have multiple ways to teach things. It’s good to talk w/teacher about concerns. Are they doing lattice mult as another way to teach basic math or is it some odd requirement.

Bottom line…in a few years no one will care how the student multiplies as long as it’s quick and gets the right answer.

Atlanta Native

September 28th, 2010
3:13 pm

Richard – you round down at .000000000001 to .499999999. You round up from .500000000 to .9999999999. The digits after the 4 or the 5 are generally not significant digits.

Barbara

September 28th, 2010
3:21 pm

The math is stupid and they make it hard for kids to learn it and at a fast pace.

Scott

September 28th, 2010
3:21 pm

I like the idea of teaching kids different methods of how to do things, then letting them use the best optoin. This issue I have with my kids schools, Coweta County Schools, is that they have books but they never use them! So when my son or daughter is having a problem with something and I try to look in the book with them to find examples. I am told we never really use the book so trying to find where to look for an example of how they have been taught to do something is usually not an option! Why waste money for books, it seems every year they buy new books and the school year starts and they are still waiting for books, if you are not going to use them in class!

Miles Demtoris

September 28th, 2010
3:27 pm

Lattice multiplication was in the math textbooks we used back in the 80’s, but it was never taught. It was always at the end of the textbook.

I remember it because it looked really hard, or at least very different than any other concept we had been taught to date and I was always glad we didn’t have to learn it.

To that end, there was yet another survey that came out last week that once again proved what generations of students have known: most people will never ever use math beyond the basic operations. Not even engineers and scientists use all the math that we as country continuously tell ourselves is required for an “advanced” society.

The vast majority of kids, and society at large, would be better off if kids were taught how to use the software that many employers use. No kid should graduate high school without mastering word processing, data entry, spreadsheet and other “office” software.

Has anyone stopped and wondered why it is that all those countries that perform better on standardized math and science tests have yet to be able to translate their supposed superior knowledge into vast gains?

Our kids perform on par with other kids up until about the end of Elementary School. It is presumed that they lose something about the time the hormones kick in. Perhaps they have just figured out from what they around them that there just aren’t a lot of people walking around doing lattice multiplication or solving advanced equations and thus conclude that they really don’t need to learn the stuff in the first place?

jh

September 28th, 2010
3:28 pm

I hate what these academicians have done to basic things such as teaching math. It allows for the publication of new textbooks and for the county to buy them, but does absolutely nothing to help kids think and actually learn.

But hey… as long as the kids feel good about themselves, what does it matter… Gotta keep their self-esteem high.

M Covington

September 28th, 2010
3:41 pm

Sure, sure, math needs to be easier every year, we never need to teach them anything we didn’t teach their parents, because America doesn’t need any scientists or engineers anyway; we’ll outsource all of that to Asia.

NewMath

September 28th, 2010
3:56 pm

The new math is not hard, it’s just stupid. Our kids continue to lag behind in education, so Ga. creates all this new stuff and new names and the teachers can’t even teach it to the kids. I have noticed that when my daughters comes home, doesn’t understand until we explain it to her and it’s usually the old fashioned way. They dump all this work on the kids and move on to something else before they learn it. This is the wrong way to teach and it doesn’t take a degree to figure it out. All of this experimenting with what can catch us up with the rest of the country and the only thing that is needed is that the teachers need to teach instead of taking a job just to be off for the summer. I see no passion in the teachers for teaching kids. They want the little kids to grow up so fast that we are not building a solid foudation for them to build upon. We need to be harder on math but we have to teach it to them instead of just going through the motions. I won’t say its too hard, but it has to be taught. We can’t expect the parents to teach it to them, remember it’s supposed to be new math and most parents didn’t learn old math, so it needs to be taught in the classroom so that when the kids get home they will have an understanding of what is going on and can explain it to the parents.

M Covington

September 28th, 2010
3:57 pm

@Miles: You have a point — there are 2 kinds of “math.” One is adeptness at manipulating numbers and formulas with pencil and paper. The other is insight into what the numbers and formulas mean. The latter is what you need more of, and the former is what you need less of, in a world with computers and calculators.
If you want proof that people need more mathematics, of the right kind, just look at how many Americans think you “need a house payment for the tax deduction.” Pay the bank $1000 to save $250 on taxes, typically, is what the deal is.

Math Guy

September 28th, 2010
4:02 pm

I will start with saying that I am probably bias on this subject. I have an undergrad in math and a masters in statistics. My job requires me to use advanced mathematical and statistical concepts on a daily basis.

I don’t quite understand why math is so hated. While most people will never need to know the derivative of something it is important to understand basic concepts. Making students learn various methods is a great way to solidify understand and promote further thought. While they may not apply it in the science or math arena it has the ability to carry over into other subjects. Math is also logic based. A solid understanding of math enhances ones ability to logically analyze ideas and issues. This too can be used in various fields. I for one think it would be a good idea to expand the math subject matter in high school (Set theory would be a great course). However, I doubt this is possible since teachers are forced to teach to the graduation tests.

Texas Pete

September 28th, 2010
4:06 pm

I have been complaining about front-end estimating for 3 years now. I think there is a hidden agenda to dumb kids down rather than make them smarter. We’re supposed to be making our students stronger in math and science to compete with the rest of the world and to prepare them for more high tech jobs. If I used front-end estimation in my job my company would go out of business. Leave the “ball park” estimates at the ball park!

Miles Demtoris

September 28th, 2010
4:09 pm

Sorry, just a couple of last points:

1) How many of us are called upon to multiply numbers in our head? If you don’t “show your work”, then you usually get the problem wrong (even if the answer is correct) and/or come under suspicion of cheating.

When was the last time any of us had to multiple 12*35 in our heads anyway?

2) Use of calculators best serves the student’s needs in a technologically advanced world.

Think about it. If I’m looking to hire someone, who is likely to be more productive? The person who pulls out a pencil and paper, or the person who can punch buttons on a calculator? Why not teach a student how to be more productive from an early age and stop wasting their time with educational hazing?

3) We need to ask ourselves why it is that so many can bubble-in a sufficient amount of correct answers on a standardized test answer sheet sufficient to get into a name brand college and/or grad school, yet employers continue to insist that even those with the highest scores are lacking once they get into the workplace.

4) We can teach all the lattice multiplication and round up techniques in the world, but none of it will help you understand the “advanced math” used on Wall Street. In fact, the less math one knew, the less jail time issued in the Enron scandal. Think about that.

NewMath

September 28th, 2010
4:10 pm

Math Guy, it’s so hated because it is not being taught right. If the teachers would teach it, then the students would probably learn and enjoy it. In order to keep kids interested you have to make learning fun.

Really?

September 28th, 2010
4:14 pm

My daughter’s math work is soooooo over her head that it brings down her gpa. When will the state provide economics and personal accounting/budgeting as an alternative for kids who are not going to be rocket scientists?

Atlanta Native

September 28th, 2010
4:14 pm

@ Texas Pete – If you think that the government schools are trying to turn out an educated populace, I envy you in your firm hold on idealism.

Miles Demtoris

September 28th, 2010
4:17 pm

High Tech jobs do not all require advanced math. Increasingly, they do require training in how to operate robotic equipment and that usually doesn’t entail any math.

What exactly are we competing with? I have yet to see the equivalent of the car, or the airplane, or tv coming from any of those countries that score higher and math and science.

“Competing in math and science” has more political and symbolical meaning than practical meaning. Hard to get elected saying something different isn’t it?

Atlanta Native

September 28th, 2010
4:18 pm

@ Really – If the schools taught personal accounting and economics, the students might graduate with an idea of how things work in a capitalist society. That would make them educated voters. That would hurt the goals of the unions and those who use the ignorant to meet their political ends. That ain’t gonna happen.

Math Guy

September 28th, 2010
4:28 pm

@NewMath – once again I am bias on this so take what I say with a grain of salt. My wife is a teacher and unfortunately is restricted (unofficially) by the administration to teach to exams. I can’t say for all schools, but she is micromanaged and the administration only cares about passing the required exams. She is passionate about working with the students (as are her co-workers), but the administration’s attitude really hurts their motivation.

DS

September 28th, 2010
4:34 pm

Don’t have kids, but if I did, this plain old simple accountant would get into a fight with the teacher and let my wife do. I would also probably tell the teacher she IS wrong, and I AM RIGHT!

atlmom

September 28th, 2010
4:38 pm

This all looks like a terrible idea. (disclaimer: I have a master’s in applied math). They keep changing and changing – and no one knows what’s going on. Unfortunately, some of math will be memorization – like multiplication.
Seriously, my 3rd grader is doing fabulously, but no surprise, looking at his parents – I too did things my own way in math class cause I didn’t always understand what the teacher was doing – but my way made *me* understand it. That’s the thing, many people have a difficult time with math – and they need to learn it their way, but they don’t have the capacity to figure out what that is. And the curriculum seems to keep changing year to year…so it’s really frustrating. Seriously – if you’re a teacher, do you have to learn a different way to teach it every few years? crazy… why not – hey – let the teacher pick something that they have seen work?

Also, I think many people go into elementary education – they love kids, and then they ‘hate math.’ (it’s a popular sentiment, so many people say it, but I think it’s actually partially a learned behavior). My theory is that many of those teachers don’t actually learn how to teach math and science well and/or they ‘hate math’ so they teach that ‘hate’ to their kids…and the cycle continues.

BW

September 28th, 2010
4:41 pm

Just tried the lattice multiplication….and like all higher math, if one doesn’t have solid footing in the basic 4 operations then it’s a wash. I personally believe that at some point of demonstrated proficiency the students should be allowed a calculator. I would only do lattice multiplication if I didn’t have access to a calculator or they were a set of complex numbers.

@Miles

You clearly only see the assembly line side of things….someone designs those robots and program their functions…that requires calculus and sometimes differential equations.