Wow! In this well written, articulate blog, a student from South Dakota has spoken out about what adopting the Common Core has meant for students. Both father and child have given permission to post here. The first rule of education should be “Do No Harm.”
People have a lot to say about the Common Core. Some hate it. Some worship it. But most of the people who are arguing over it are not the people it affects the most.
I am a student in middle school, and my school district recently instated the Common Core standards and the Smarter Balanced standardized tests into the curriculum. Not a problem, right?
The problems – and there are a lot of them – lie mostly in the mathematical standards.
The Common Core standards are supposed to, according to theCommon Core website, help us “solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form.” Unfortunately, the real-world problems that are actually in our algebra textbook are not like the example provided on the site.
Here are some choice examples:
This table shows the living space recommended for pigs of certain weights.
Weight (pounds) 40 60 80 100 120 150 230 Area (square feet) 2.5 3 3.5 4 5 6 8
a.) Make a scatter plot of the data.
b.) Write an equation that models the recommended living space (in square feet) as a function of a pig’s weight (in pounds).
c.) About how much living space is recommended for a pig weighing 250 pounds?
Two employees at a banquet facility are given the task of folding napkins. One person starts folding napkins at a rate of 5 napkins per minute. The second person starts 10 minutes after the first person and folds napkins at a rate of 4 napkins per minute.
a.) Let y be the number of napkins folded x minutes after the first person starts folding. Write a linear system that models the situation.
b.) Solve the linear system.
c.) Does the solution of the linear system make sense in the context of this problem? Explain.
The mass of a grain of a certain type of rice is about 10-2 gram. About how many grains of rice are in a box containing 103grams of rice?
The real-world situations provided in our textbook don’t actually help us apply the skills we learn to real-life situations. (Who writes linear systems to fold napkins?) We’ll forget the context of the problem quickly, especially when it’s about something as trivial as the examples provided. While there are a few useful story problems in the book that deal with financial concepts, they are very sadly outnumbered by problems similar to the examples I gave above.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Even worse than the ridiculous story problems the book provides us with are its methods of teaching.
In elementary school, our teachers taught us a wide variety of methods and gave us a choice of which ones to use. They also told us that if we found another method that worked, we could use it in class and for our assignments. This is a good thing; everybody learns differently, and different students will perform well with different methods.
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