Another Sunday with the Common Core

Three more perspectives on the Common Core State Standards:

For all my doubts and negative reactions to the Common Core, I start feeling sympathetic to it when I read articles with headlines like “Common Core is Indoctrinating Kids with Socialism”: if right-wing extremists like Jim Bridenstine are so deeply opposed to the Common Core, maybe it isn’t all bad after all.

Then we have a more rational perspective, this time in a series of letters in the New York Times Sunday Review from eight months ago. It’s not that I agree with all these letters — one couldn’t, since they represent a variety of points of view — it’s just that they contain reasoned thought. Some of the letters of course make more sense than others. For instance, I commend the letter from Barbara Madeloni, identified at the time as “a candidate for president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association” but now actually the president, since she got elected a little while ago (much to the pleasant surprise of some of us).

Finally, a math-specific example from the excellent Kate Nowak, who discusses using geometric transformations as an aid to doing geometry proofs. This specimen from the Common Core’s high-school math standards is not actually new — Zalman Usiskin was doing the same thing many decades ago, and the National Council of Teachers of Math used to claim that he “has greatly influenced the way geometry is taught in many American high schools.” Maybe so, even though Nowak says the following:

Congruence and similarity proofs through transformations are new to most teachers with CCSS-M. I have noticed instances of them making teachers freak out. But they are actually delightful, once you understand what is expected. I find transformations a much clearer way to show why figures must be congruent and similar than with the axiomatic approach most of us used to use.

Anyway, even though it’s long, read her entire post, including (for a change) the comments. As I suggested, it’s not clear to me that this really has anything to do with the Common Core, other than the fact that it’s being (re-)recommended. But maybe this is something good about the Common Core.







Categories: Math, Teaching & Learning