Saturday, November 8, 2008

Convincing other parents

Allison's post yesterday at kitchentablemath on how difficult it is to convince fellow parents of Reform Math's shortcomings coincides with my receipt of our school's latest Home and School Association report.

According to this report, 89% of the 70+ parents who attended the school math consultant's parent presentation rated it "helpful" to "extremely helpful." This, despite the fact that she made an evidence-free argument against having children solve problems by "stacking" (arranging numbers vertically and using the standard algorithms), asserted that we should be teaching our children the multiplication tables at home because teachers don't have time to in school, and spent about half of her presentation soliciting our multiple strategies for multiplying 85 by 4 and dividing 120 by 3, thus demonstrating how it is that time is used up in the classroom.

Like Allison, I feel that no one takes me seriously when I carry on about the dire effects of Reform Math.

No one, that is, except my friends. But these people, for all the concerns they've been expressing, appear to have been written off by the HSA as "friends of lefty."

Here, for what it's worth, is the latest from one of these friends, the parent of a 1st grade mental math whizz:

Just as we expected, J has been struggling with the “show your work” portion of his math homework. He got an “incomplete” one week for failing to illustrate how he added 2 and 2, or some such thing. This week, on a “3 + 5” problem, he had a solution: he drew a stick figure with a thought bubble, put “3 + 5” in it, and labeled it “me”!


Mrs. C said...

OK, I shouldn't laugh. My Emperor adds and multiplies in his head as well. Singapore is asking us to do "mental math," which I'm telling ya I can't do to save my life... I HAVE to write it down. He is doing well, but my other child who HAS to write things down, is not. I think we are just going to do some review before we move on.

Sometime, could you please post about what happens AFTER you convince other parents and change happens? How do you rev up to the new curriculum and do things differently? I am struggling with that.


Casvelyn said...

Well, I'm not a parent (I'm a college student and historian who never does any more complicated math than balancing a checkbook), but I certainly buy your arguments.

I'm bad at math. I can't do simple arithmatic in my head, and I barely do much better on paper. I have insanely good reading comprehension and writing skills. By all accounts, I should be good at Reform Math and the like. In reality, it's the most confusing thing I ever saw (and this from the 22-year-old who still hasn't mastered parts of 4th grade math). It's so... non-linear is the only word I can really come up with, but it seems to fit. I guess I'm bad with numbers, but I understand the underlying principles of mathematics (and algebra, and trig, and calculus). My beef with Reform Math is that it takes away the principles, and just leaves the numbers, which is the only reason I was even able to complete any math after about halfway-through 4th grade.

Oh well... I am the only person I know who can say "I like math, but those numbers just get in the way!"