Education That You Know Is Sick
A headline at the Daily Caller complains: “Principals say Common Core tests make little kids vomit, pee their pants.”
Top comedian Louis C.K. shook the educational world with this tweet: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry.” Louis C.K. blamed Common Core.
The mother explains: “This is my middle child in the photo … She is 7 and is in 2nd grade….After checking her work, I had found 2 math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong but I don’t understand it myself and was not much help.….I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school….This is first photo of her that I have ever hated.”
How do our professors work this sick magic? The basic technique is to create garbled problems that have no clear answer. Here is a hypothetical illustration of the basic gimmick: “Tom has six oranges. Mary has five oranges. Mrs. Smith has 10 oranges. How many pies can they make?”
The average adult says, Hey, wait a minute, that’s bull. The average child, however, assumes you are asking an honest question – and grows increasingly miserable trying to answer it. Furthermore, that example is easy; many others used in schools will defeat most adults.
For example, this problem has puzzled a multitude: “Tyler made 36 total snowflakes which is a multiple of how triangular snowflakes he made. How many triangular snowflakes could he have made?”
It seems to have a typo or two, but even if you can fix that, will you be any closer to an answer?
Here’s one that is short and slippery: “A gymnastic meet is 2 hours long. It has 8 competitors and each competes in 4 events. How many events will be scored?”
Does this actually have an answer? Are you sure? In any case, are there hacks in our Department of Education who claim that one child in 25 can answer this? So why would it be used?
Now we come to what has been hailed as the worst question ever:
“Juanita wants to give bags of stickers to her friends. She wants to give the same number of stickers to each friend. She’s not sure if she needs 4 bags or 6 bags of stickers. How many stickers could she buy so there are no stickers left over?”
My nephew, a math major, insisted that the answer is obvious. I said you might know the answer, but don’t tell me it’s obvious. Later I found out that Twitchy readers were invited to solve the question and they agreed that the answer is 12, 24, 0, or 7. Obviously.
Now, all this sick fruit suggests a sick tree. That would be our Education Establishment. These ideologues seem to be in pursuit of a society so disoriented that it will let them be in charge.
It’s interesting that the only reason we are talking about these ideologues is that they have gone too far. They have created questions so perverse that lots of people are alarmed.
Why would our ideologues give away their game by creating these elusive math problems? First, I think they are desperate to move quickly. They want children dumbed today, not in a few years. Secondly, it’s clear they think they can get away with it. The Common Core juggernaut is supposed to overrun the country, as Hitler overran Russia in 1941.
The part that is not so obvious is that this game has been played continuously for more than 60 years. New Math, in development for many years, came and went in five years circa 1965. But today’s essential gimmick was fully developed at that time. You take stuff that is normally done in college, drop it into the second grade, and you have a kid-wrecker.
“Topics introduced in the New Math include modular arithmetic, algebraic inequalities, matrices, symbolic logic, Boolean algebra, and abstract algebra.”
According to one account, “[p]arents were … vocal in their opposition, claiming that they couldn't help their third-graders with their homework anymore, and pointed to a noticeable decline in the more concrete skills such as computation. New Math was derided in the public forum[.] ... Morris Kline, in Why Johnny Can't Add: The Failure of the New Math , wrote that ‘with near perfect regularity, [teachers] applaud the return to traditional content [and] instructional methods, and higher standards of student performance.’”
This was a bitter defeat for our progressives. Parents wanted their children to learn basic arithmetic. What impertinence. The answer was to lie low for a decade, put together a coalition of fancy-name front groups, and come roaring back again with Reform Math. Same pig, new lipstick.
Instead of one sick curriculum that everyone would have to deal with, the professors created a dozen dysfunctional curricula so that resistance would be divided, and futile.
Reform Math is what parents are still dealing with in Common Core, particularly the curriculum called Everyday Math. There are whole websites devoted to hating EM.
Reform Math is bogus. Children suffer but are not learning arithmetic.
Don’t imagine that math instruction is an isolated phenomenon and thus possibly an accident. Everyday Math is comparable to the counterproductive, non-phonetic methods used to teach reading: Look-say / Whole Word / sight-words / Whole Language.
In essence, here is the formula used throughout public schools, in every subject. Find a technique that pretends to teach something but doesn’t. I say this is sick instruction, devised by sick people, on behalf of sick goals.
The people behind this are the same sort who invented Death Education (aka values clarification) in the 1950s. This is where young children have to answer morbid hypotheticals. A lifeboat will hold only six people. Your family has eight members. Who must drown? Clearly, our experts have been making kids sick for a long time.
Throughout all this bad education, you see the imprint of Russian psychology, and particularly Pavlovian psychology. The goal was always to figure out how to control people, shape people, shock people, or make them surrender more quickly. The Russians love the idea of tricking you into defeat. And that’s what Common Core seems intended to do.
Call the whole thing subversion, or treachery, or greed, or psychopathology, but please don’t call it education.
I’m indebted to “The Cult of Common Core,” a fine new book by Brad McQueen, for this money quote: "I have gotten to know a very different Bill Gates as I dug into the cult of Common Core. Now I see him as that creepy old man sitting alone at the edge of the playground with his hands in his pockets asking kids if they want some Common Core candy."
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.