Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of memes and other references on Facebook to the new insanity of common core mathematics. I’m thinking it’s a good thing no one had enough stupidity to unveil that to the world when I was in school. I just wouldn’t have done it. I had a hard time following the rules as it was; especially things like showing my work.
For some reason, my teachers wanted to make sure I actually understood how to do the problem. That was okay for problems that were a little involved but when it came to basic equations, I just wrote down the answer. And yes, I sometimes got marked down for it—that is, until I learned it didn’t really matter what I put down to “show my work.”
I found that scribbling anything on the paper was enough to satisfy them. So, of course, I had some fun with it. I’d switch problems, that is, show the work for the wrong problem, but then put the correct answer. Or, I’d show the numbers for an entirely different problem, one that hadn’t been included on the test. And sometimes, I’d just write down random numbers and then scribble over them so it wasn’t entirely legible.
And out of all the times of doing this, which was most of my schooling career, I never once got in trouble—they never even mentioned it. Maybe they knew I was playing games and chose not to play along, I don’t know. Or, maybe they saw that I did know how to do the problems, and arriving at the right answer was actually the important part.
Despite my refusal to always follow the “rules,” I liked math. It was straightforward and logical—unlike other subjects—and I usually did it in my head. In later years, for the more complicated problems, I would do the simple parts in my head, maybe writing down those answers so I could remember them, and then do the next computation in my head again. So, I really had nothing legitimate to write down for the problem as a whole—although, I did once suggest to my high school teacher that I could just draw a picture of a brain and call it showing my work. Thankfully, he had a sense of humor!
But something tells me my tricks wouldn’t have worked with common core. It seems the teachers of that are more interested in showing the work than getting the right answer. And my stubbornness would have dictated that I not participate. I know, I would have probably received a failing grade, which would have perfectly illustrated my point of the absurdity of this “new and improved” system—getting the right answers and still flunking.
But then, the only evidence of my flunking would be the final grade on the report card, right? And in keeping with the spirit of the correct answers being irrelevant, I assume it would then be perfectly acceptable for me to switch my grade. On second thought, maybe common core math wouldn’t have been so bad after all.
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook and paperback on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. Amazon Profile - www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.