The Real Purpose of Common Core

There has been a link circulating recently through social media (Link below). The link describes a story in which a teacher told a student that an answer was wrong on a common core math quiz. A very loud debate has erupted in regards to Common Core Math and it's role in the education system. Some stand to defend it, and others are very much against it due to its "confusing nature." I believe that Common Core is simply not being used properly within the education system, which is why such stories described in the article exist.
I am very passionate about the debate on Common Core Math and its role in the education system. Though it is the center of much confusion and debate, Common Core is not all together bad. The issue with Common Core Math is not that the methods themselves are bad; instead, the issue resides in the fact that teachers and school boards have not been taught the actual purpose of Common Core and have not been properly trained on how to use it in the class room. Common Core was not created to provide hard and definite methods to solve math problems. It was created to help students develop a more accurate perception of numbers and show students how numbers can be bent and manipulated to achieve a specific goal.

In this particular article, the "method" of multiplication being conducted exists solely to show students, in a visual manner, that numbers are simply a series of smaller numbers that have been combined. If the teacher understood this, the student's answer would not have been marked wrong. The teacher could of course explain to the student that 5x3 actually means five groups of 3 instead of three groups of 5, but expecting a student who is just learning multiplication to understand the semantics of mathematical symbols is a little much to ask.

Common Core should only be used to answer the question, "WHY does this work?" It should NOT be used to answer "HOW do I solve this?"

Students nowadays are suffering in math because they are only being taught the "why?" and not being taught the "how?". Past methods for math should still be taught. Outdated methods such as multiplication charts and memorization are absolutely necessary for students to succeed. Common Core should only be used as a supplement to such methods in order to show students why the methods work. 
If you would like to take a look at the article for yourself, follow the link below:


After looking at the student's worksheet, I wonder if the math teacher involved will have trouble in the future when trying to convince this student that the commutative property applies to multiplication since he will remember that he was told that 5x3 is not the same as 3x5.  I see too many worksheets today from common core workbooks that dwell too long in manipulates and visual representations of math concepts so that students believe that is the recommended method for working any math problem. This makes for very slow math calculations for such students who remain in that mode.
The test in question asked kids to solve “5 x 3” using repeated addition. Sadly, we have become a nation of test takers and have forgotten how to teach students to think.  Common Core is specifically designed to help students understand that math is a manipulation of numbers and does not rely on rote memorization.  If Common Core is embraced, students will learn to see math as a language and will not rely on test-taking skills to answer a math question. We need to help young students understand there is more than one way to find an answer and celebrate their creativity in finding a method that works. 
If methods like memorizing times tables are still necessary for success in math, then they are NOT "outdated". Unlike, say, how to calculate the square root of 17 by hand. Who started this trend of saying that memorization, especially of times tables, is "outdated"? And when did it become outdated? Google will do your math for you? [Actually, Google does have a calculator ....]
The basics should be memorized. More complex things can be derived, using other mental processes, from the memorized basics.


Ryan A.

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