Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stacking, regrouping, and corrupting the children

At this fall's first "parent education workshop," our school's math consultant told us that we shouldn't show our children how to add numbers by "stacking" them one on top of another. Children don't understand how stacking and regrouping work, and would be better off devising their own solutions.

The many skeptics in this record-sized crowd were given no opportunity to ask questions. A few new converts, though, had chances to confess to being "stackers," and their humble admissions suggested hope that the sins of the fathers won't be visited upon their children.

Not if I can help it. This coming week, during our second math team practice, my co-coach and I will be showing the most mathematically inclined and advanced quartile of the second and third grade classes how to stack and regroup. Not only that, but we'll be picking this forbidden mathematical fruit from a particularly controversial Tree of Knowledge.

Our kids seem eager to be corrupted. The first problem set we sent home, plucked straight off this tree, was--if parent reports are accurate--devoured with reckless glee, as these 8 and 9-year-olds threw off the mathematical abstinence the higher powers in education have foisted on them.

2 comments:

Nancy Bea Miller said...

When I showed one of my sons how I had learned addition, i.e. the "stacking" method, he was very impressed. "Wow, that's so cool! That works great! I wonder if my math teacher knows about this?" was his innocent comment.

zac said...

I'm enjoying your series on Singapore Math.

Nancy stole my thought as I read this post - is it the teachers who are being spared from difficult math?