Common Core In Action—Painful To Watch

   Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives.

     A lot of the mathematics curriculum is “filler”, unrelated to anything the majority of students will need to know. When one teaches what doesn’t need to be taught, with methods that appear to be designed to be ineffective, student frustration will be the highest. Ineffective teaching results in the enterprise being an IQ test, like most of education. The information is scattered and unorganized so that the smarter students pick up the most.

Stick a Fork in It…We’re Done
by Unnamed California High-School Geometry Teacher

Background: I spent today watching a 90-minute, in-class lesson, using real students in a real high-school Geometry class.  This lesson was presented by the math content expert for our local school district.


   A government expert is almost always someone who is labeled an expert but can’t do anything useful. What it means is that someone is savvy enough to ride on the latest trend. That way, you never have to think or learn, just fad your way to success.

She starts by passing out a hexagon and asks the kids to find the area. They could not figure it out. So she passed out a page with rectangles that had square units marked off and had the kids count the boxes. Eventually they might have gotten base X width, though I am not sure. Our version of Common Core means that we don’t give formulas; the kids need to determine that themselves.  Eventually they were to cut the rectangles in half (three of them) and then were to cut the last one into three pieces, all of them triangles. The kids them spent a half hour estimating the area of each by counting. Never did the formula for area of a triangle come up.


    It has never been demonstrated that “discovered” knowledge is more useful than taught knowledge. The problem with discovery is that different children discover different things. Then there’s the frustration and waste of time, but, close enough for government work.

Ninety minutes after the start of the lesson, the kids were instructed (as the bell rang) to use their “knowledge” to determine the area of their regular hexagon. They had neither the ways nor the time to do so. The paper was their exit ticket. No practice problems because Common Core doesn’t do practice problems. I asked later in the debrief what would have been assigned “if you had more time”?  The response was that the kids could write in their journals how they found the area of something in their houses.

I am not kidding.

So 90 minutes was spent on a topic that is a 5th grade standard in the old California standards [before Common Core] and that any teacher worth anything could have covered well – in five or ten minutes.

In my opinion, Bill Gates [the “deep pockets” behind the Common Core Standards] has a lot to answer for — though as typical he will not. And the people in the NCTM [National Council of Teachers of Mathematics] should be ashamed … as should the developers of the Common Core standards.

We have lost the “Math Wars” … again.


    Another fad, another decade. One day we’ll wonder why anybody could have believed any of this.

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson
Author, “Days of Songs and Mirrors: A Jacobite in the ‘45.”
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies


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