Q&A #1280

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Chicago Math

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From: Georg

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2009032822:33:13
Subject: Chicago/Everyday Math

Suffice it to say, "Chicago" Math is without a doubt the worst curriculum choice a district could make to instruct elementary age children in basic mathematics. The notion that somehow it is advantageous to teach through this process, because it teaches the student how to "think" about math is absolute nonsense. If you can't understand the basics of mathematics, it does not matter whether you can think about how math applies in your "everyday" life. I have a step-daughter who is an engaging bright young child, who is currently being instructed in Chicago Math (and has been for the last 4 years) - this has been nothing short of a disaster. For you parents out there, who chance upon this website (probably out of the same sense of desperation that caused my wife and I to look around), please know that your concerns are valid. I can tell you exactly how you came to this point. Your child came home and was indicating that she was having some trouble with math. You sat down with her and she tried to explain to you the Lotice method of multiplication or the "hangman" method of long division. You soon discovered that there isn't enough paper in the world to complete each problem, because what took you and I 15 seconds to complete and three steps, now takes your daughter about 5 minutes to complete and 3 sheets of paper. You know the whole estimate the number of times x goes into y and then put the number to the side, then estimate again, then put that number to the side, then one more time, then again, and again and again. 42 steps later and you have your division problem complete, which you and I could have completed in 5 seconds by looking at it. Why the difference? Because you and I were actually taught how to do the dang problem. There are two glaring things wrong with Chicago Math - 1) the kids never stay on a topic long enough to understand it. One day it's division, then fractions, then lotice method, then geometry, then fractions, then subtraction, . . . well, you get it. But the point is - nothing is ever ACTUALLY LEARNED; and, 2) the basic premise that you don't really need to master it, because after all in 7th and 8th grade, you start to use calculators. I am not kidding - that is the explanation that was given to us at a recent parent-teachers demonstration on this issue. Chicago Math is touchy feely, mumbo jumbo that is better suited for the theoretical world of academia than it is in an actual applied mathematics setting. Your kids will NEVER learn to the degree and level that you want them to learn if they continue to be immersed in this system. Unfortunately, we are at the point where my wife has elected to pull her step daughter out of the school - because of this issue. My step-daughters teachers are wonderful and the school is, otherwise, terrific, but this is pure insanity and my step-daughters future is too important to let this go any further. If you are reading this and going - AHA!! Know that you are not alone in this struggle. Chicago Math is the pits.

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