Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everyday Mathematics Makes My Head Hurt

An internet friend of mine who had previously been homeschooling her 9 year old decided to send her child back to public school, at least for a semester. On the message boards she remarked that her daughter hated her new public school math class, and had even cried during math. She was using a textbook called Everyday Mathematics.

I had heard of the book before, but I didn't know anything about it. I visited some web sites to learn more about it. Wow, it's quite scary. I was looking through the K-3 glossary to see some terms that their book used:

mental arithmetic Does not require all computations to be done in one’s head. Rather children develop a variety of flexible solution strategies, including drawing pictures and doodles, counting jumps on a number line or grid, and so on. Children devise their own solution strategies.

Doodles? Drawing pictures? Children devising their own solution strategies? That's just looking for trouble in a math class. You can't devise your own solution strategy for something that you barely know how to do in the first place.

number grid A table in which consecutive numbers are arranged in rows of ten. A move from one number to the next within a row is a change of one; a move from one number to the next within a column is a change of ten.

Huh? Say that again?

Fact Triangles Triangular cards that use the members of fact families for practice with addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts. Two one-digit numbers and their sum or product (marked with an asterisk) appears in the corners of each triangle.

What was wrong with flash cards?

power of a number The product of factors all of which are the same. For example, 53 (five to the third power, or 5 x 5 x 5) is another way to name 125.

I understand this term perfectly well, but this was something that was taught in 7th grade when I took pre-algebra. I might have learned it in 6th grade math, but certainly not in 3rd grade math.

In case you think that these third graders are geniuses, though, the K-3 glossary fails to include definitions for improper fractions, mixed fractions, subtrahend, addend (not an item in the glossary by itself, but the definition of "number family" assumes that you already know what an addend is), or minuend. Not that most people use those terms in their everyday life, but if you are going to be teaching mathematics at as high a level as powers of a number, I would think that you would want to teach fractions first... and I would guess that if you taught fractions properly, some of those terms would end up in your book's glossary.

MJ McDermott, a meteorologist with a degree in atmospheric science, produced this 15 minute YouTube video talking about Everyday Math, as well as TERC math. It's pretty interesting:



It's amazing how anybody other than someone with a really high math aptitude already would be able to go through a program like this with a good grounding of mathematics.

4 comments:

The Vedic Maths Forum India said...

HI,
I would like to recommend High Speed Vedic Math for faster mental computation.

This system comes from India and is the worlds fastest mental math system. Do have a look at the tutorials and resources given in this website may be it would help your children.

http://www.vedicmathsindia.org

Much thanks
Gaurav

The Vedic Maths Forum India said...

www.vedicmathsindia.org

Brooke Lorren said...

I'd rather have my children be able to do math using the plain old paper and pencil method first. I have no problem with teaching mental math... it can be a useful skill. I'm not particularly good at mental math myself, but I could multiply a 10 digit by 10 digit number on paper... something that someone using Everyday Math would probably have some trouble with.

My 5 year old seems to have an aptitude for math. Her textbook gives us several days to practice the +1 facts before we move on to harder facts. She figured out the +1 facts in the first lesson, and then surprised us by answering a +2 fact question without us teaching it. I would still never subject her to this math textbook until she was proficient with traditional methods.

Still don't know about the baby's math aptitude yet, lol.

raj kumar said...

I am here to discuss about minuend definition, A minuend is the amount from which a quantity is subtracted.An example of a minuend is the number 27 in the equation 27 minus 12 equals 15.