Are you confounded by your child’s math homework? Do you sometimes wonder if the math your child is now learning in elementary school involves math concepts that you learned in secondary math classes? Do you ever question your own math ability when you can’t help your child complete a stem and leaf plot, a proof statement or a place value problem?
Over the past three years, our staff has fielded a variety of parent questions about the supposed “new math” that is taught, grades K-5. Our district math curriculum is set by the state of Michigan which follows the national mandates for math education. This ensures that all schools throughout our nation are preparing all learners to know and understand math facts AND understand how to apply use math to create sophisticated algebraic equations.
Why? Society demands this. All of us now need to know how to develop macros equations for spreadsheets and for a variety of other work projects.
Keith Devlin, an NPR math expert explained it best:
“….Computers do arithmetic for us, but making computers do the things we want them to do requires algebraic thinking. For instance, take a computer spreadsheet. The computer does all the calculations for you automatically. But you have to write the macros that tell it what calculations to do — and that is algebraic thinking.
You cannot become good at algebra without a mastery of arithmetic, AND arithmetic itself is no longer the ultimate goal. Thus the emphasis in teaching mathematics today is on getting people to be sophisticated, algebraic thinkers.”
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