I get it. I really get it.
Last year, when Common Core math was implemented at our private school, the parents were up in arms. That would also include me. After all, we were paying for our kids’ education and if we wanted common core math we wouldn’t have signed up for it, right?!
We were even invited to an optional “explanation course” of what Common Core is and why our school was choosing to switch to Singapore Math.
I went to that meeting. Because you know why? I hate math. Hate it. I wish math would just take all four Teletubbies and jump off a cliff. Okay, that’s mean. I don’t wish any harm to any person who’s job it is to bounce around in one of those horrific costumes. I just want the idea of Teletubbies gone. With math. Off a cliff.
I left the meeting with even more math anxiety and anger than I did when I went in.
I struggled in math as a child. I have struggled with math as an adult. Numbers do not make sense to me. They just don’t. I remember crying in 3rd grade weekly, if not daily. I would get a test with a failing grade on Friday’s and I would excuse myself to the bathroom and promptly flush that baby down the toilet.
Hey, I thought I was pretty smart in 3rd grade. Actually that was smart. Surprised I thought of it, really. No matter, it’s not like my mother didn’t find out about my grades with the teacher. I remember crying for hours as my dad tried to explain 5th grade concepts to me.
Middle school math..who knew how I got through. High School math…uck. The only math I didn’t hate was Geometry, and that’s because the teacher was awesome. Miss Sanders, wherever you are, you made math NOT suck.
But here I am now, with kids of my own, each of them with different math abilities and my daughter is like me. She’s a smart kid, but math takes work. In her 3rd grade year, I felt like I was watching myself.
Then 4th grade came and so did Common Core.
A very miraculous thing happened. Her grades were going up. She was getting B’s and a few A’s to replace the C’s and D’s from the previous year.
The more I helped her with math, the more I thought…”Why wasn’t I taught this way?”
For real people. Singapore Math was starting to make sense to me. Numbers were starting to make sense.
Now, can I say that because I’m an adult and my thinking skills are different, this has something to do with it? Sure. Probably.
Wait. No. Nope. I’ve tried for years to understand math. And my 3rd graders Common Core math was the first time something was helping me figure out how numbers relate to each other.
My son’s 2nd grade teacher from last year explained it this way, ‘Yes, it’s different. We are trying to figure it out ourselves…what it’s doing is going deeper into a few concepts versus going wider to cover a bunch of concepts. I can see how it can help make them more critical thinkers.”
What I don’t agree with and never will, is that there is ONE way to teach a child…that there is a cookie cutter approach to education. Just because I find common core math to be actually enlightening, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for all children. It doesn’t mean you’re going to like it either. But, now that we’re homeschooling…I’ve actually kept Singapore Math in our curriculum. It’s actually making sense to us. It just takes work.
Here’s why it’s hard for us parents. Because it’s different! Change is hard. Changing the system is hard. But just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be done.
It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, either. Our kiddos are the guinea pigs. This system is being tested on them…and the teachers….and the parents.
This is why I “get it.”
But I don’t hate it.