Guest Post by Paul Ziegler
What Happened to Our Math?
Math in the United States has been, and continues to be, on the decline. It seems as though our students are getting dumber, when in fact, they are just part of the “great dumbing down” started many years ago. The students are not the problem. The curriculum they are using is. Some are still not sure what to think about the new Common Core math. I would like to share a bit of personal insight on the matter. While the term Common Core is new, the concept is not. Every once in a while someone thinks they will come up with a “new approach to math”. The first time I ran across this type of change was in the early 1960s. The “new thing” then was called Modern Math, which brought in the notion of the spiral approach to math. This approach stresses the continual introduction of various concepts in mathematics without developing an understanding of the laws behind them. It was also based on memorization and guessing. The problem is, math is a system and is best taught in a systematic manner. This Modern Math was just as ridiculous as the Common Core is now. The people who started Modern Math wouldn’t know a young student if they saw one. They tend to think that 12 year olds are just smaller versions of 22 year olds. The fact that reason and logic in younger students often are not yet fully developed escapes them. The result of the 1960s “Modern Math” experiment was that it produced a generation of math illiterates, and the Common Core math is set to do the same. If you want your children to be well grounded in mathematics, prepared for future education, and able to enter the world with confidence, stick with the tried and true systematic method of teaching math that has been used for generations and has always served us well.
By Paul Ziegler, author of Systematic Mathematics