Leatherneck Blogger

Zombie Math: Common Core Math Is the New Math of 1965

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Written by Gary North


Common Core math for children is a reincarnation of the failed “New Math” experiment of the late 1960’s. The goal is the same: to baffle parents who understand math.

If parents cannot understand how to teach math this way, then they are tempted to turn all teaching over to classroom teachers in tax-funded schools. The parents give up.

This is the #1 goal of Common Core math: to get parents to give up and butt out. It was the #1 goal of New Math, too.

The New Math experiment failed because the elementary school teachers could not understand it. It separated them from the teaching process. Common Core will have the same effect. Trust me.

As long as your kids are not being taught Common Core math in the early years, calm down. Enjoy the show: a multi-billion dollar train wreck. This one is high profile. When the crash occurs, there will be endless explanations. You know the drill. “If only we had been given more money.”

For you younger folks, whose memories of the 1960’s are either vague or non-existent, let me introduce you to Tom Lehrer, Ph.D., mathematics, Harvard. In the mid-1950’s, he produced a 10-inch LP album of songs — among the most clever humor songs in history, though some were a bit risque. All of them are on YouTube. Then, in the early 1960’s, he wrote songs for the TV satire show, That Was the Week That Was.

Then he did a song on the New Math. A mathematician will laugh louder than you will — unless you are a mathematician. Think of this as Common Core I.

I am about to offer you a great example of how the Common Core math methods separate parents from teaching. Warning: you will not understand the following video. It illustrates a curriculum that was designed by educrats to keep you from understanding. It works!

Note: only one university mathematician was on the Common Core Validation Committee, Stanford’s James Milgram. He resigned in protest.

How not to teach math to young children — or anyone else:

This poor woman pretends to understand a brand-new, utterly hopeless curriculum. She is incoherent. She does not understand the extent to which she is visibly and audibly incoherent. She is the front person. Not interviewed were the women on the faculty who were screened by the principal and not selected. They are terrified, for good reason. They will soon be made to look like fools every day, trying to explain Common Core math to children. Most of them were not good at math in high school. They took no math in college. They majored in young child development, where math is not mentioned. (I have 12 semester hours in the field, which I earned at night school when I was 54. There was no training in math, I assure you.) Now they are being used as guinea pigs for a half-baked, jerry-rigged experiment.

Did you notice that she attempted to to tie this procedure in some loose way to the decimal system? So did the New Math. The New Math failed. So will Common Core. The New Math was allowed to die. It was buried quietly, without fanfare. It will be much harder to bury Common Core math without fanfare.

Parents will rebel. Some will march. They will harass school boards. The politicians who promoted this revival of Common Core I will leave office. Their replacements will jettison this turkey. New school boards will be elected. Opposition to Common Core will be an easy way to get elected. One by one, school districts will abandon Common Core.

Meanwhile, several academic years of students will have a terrible time learning math. They also are guinea pigs.

When it is abandoned, what then? What is Plan B — actually, it’s more like Plan K — to Common Core? What fad is on the horizon?

It’s no fad left behind.


There is a better way to tie things to the decimal system: money. Start with what the child already understands. Motivate the child.

Here are two videos I produced on teaching math to young children. They were to be used by the parent. The child was supposed to watch the videos, but with parental supervision.

This is not rocket science. It did not take a grant from the Gates Foundation. These were beta-tests of video production. I would use a different microphone setup today — less sensitive. But you will get the general idea.

After you see this, you may think: “I could teach math this way.” You may even think this: “I could do a YouTube video series like this.” My recommendation: do it. It’s dirt cheap. To find out how cheap, click here.

You can figure out where I went next.

I get confused when I get more than 9 pennies. I lose track. Maybe you do, too. So, I trade them for a dime. A dime is worth 10 pennies, even though a dime is smaller than a penny. Here are 9 pennies in a column [vertical]. I add one more penny. There are now 10 pennies. But I’m getting confused. There are so many pennies. So, I will trade 10 pennies for a dime. [I move a dime to the left of the column of pennies.] See? Now I have one dime. I’ll write a 1 under it. That’s one dime. But remember: I have to pay 10 pennies to buy my dime. So, here they go. [I push them off to the right, one at a time. I count them, one by one: 1, 2, 3, 4….] So, how many pennies do I have? None. So, I am going to write a zero in the space where the 10 pennies used to be. [I write 0.] I now have one dime and no pennies. That’s why I have a 1 and a 0.Say, what do a one and a zero look like? Have you ever seen this before? They look just like the number 10. That’s because there is one dime and no pennies. The dime is worth 10 pennies. It is the same as 10 ones. Is that right? Of course it’s right. I have one dime and no pennies. That’s the same as 10 pennies. So, whenever you see the number 10, that means it is worth 10 ones. That can be pennies, or 10 Legos, or 10 anything. But here, it means one dime and no pennies.”

Guess what? The homeschool teacher now knows what 10 means in a base-10 system. That’s a side benefit. The important thing is this: the child is on the right track at a young age to understand base 10.

This is the decimal system kids can understand almost instantly. Lesson by lesson, they get more dimes. They like that. I add dimes. I add pennies. I take away pennies. I take away dimes. And then, maybe in lesson 7 — I forget — I trade in my dimes for a dollar — a metal coin dollar. And on we go.

The kids get it. If you think kids will give up a dime to get nine pennies, you are working with very young children.

If you think it is hard to persuade a kid to give up 9 pennies for a dime — “Sucker!” — you are remarkably naive.

In later lessons, I used both notational approaches: horizontal, meaning =, and vertical, meaning ___.

Did they ever tell you in school that ____ means “the same number as”? Probably not.

2It is best to teach young children both ways, back and forth. Keep reminding them that both approaches are the same in theory. This will make their transition to algebra a lot easier.

I did not follow through on this project. I only produced 15 lessons. I had too many other projects. I still do. I teach all of the Ron Paul Curriculum‘s high school English courses, the economics course, the U.S. history course, half the government course, and business II. But you get the idea on teaching math. Money is tied to the decimal system. Teach them this way.

This is the old math. It is also the coherent math. It is also the hand-down-to-your-children math. It is the keep-the-parent-in-the-loop math. It is the balance-your-checkbook math.

It is not Common Core math, at least at the introductory level.


I recommend a set of free books, which are over 150 years old: Ray’s Arithmetic. They were companions to the McGuffey Readers. You can download them here.

http://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com/public/department121.cfmYou could produce a course of 10-minute daily lessons by using Ray’s and Screencast-O-Matic. You can rent it online for $15 a year — no watermark ads. You can test it for free: www.screencast-o-matic.com.

In the Ron Paul Curriculum, math from 6th grade up is taught by a man with a Ph.D. in physics. It is not Common Core math, but it works.

Please forward this page to a friend, who might forward it to a friend, who might..

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

October 7, 2014 at 00:01

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