What happened to subtraction?
You know. Good old subtraction. You have 12 pencils, and you take 5 away, how many do you have left?
I always knew the answer to be 7. Mostly because my Dad was really smart and he showed me how to SIMPLIFY math. He happened to be an accountant, so he had that going for him, too. He and all of my teachers in school physically showed me exactly how to utilize basic math skills and work through the process of elimination. They would put out 12 pencils, or coins, or Cheerios, or balls, or marbles, or whatever was lying around – and then like magic, would remove 5 of them. At that point, you could very easily count what was left on the table and come to the simple conclusion that 12 – 5 = 7.
7 pencils. Figured it out in less than 5 seconds.
And the best part about this type of learning, it could work with pretty much any number! You could take 247 gummy bears, and eat 114 of them, and you would be able to figure out there would be 133 of them left. And with practice, and a piece of paper and pencil, even big numbers like 13,688 minus 10,359 would yield results of 3,329, just like this:
My oldest son Ben came home from 2nd grade on Friday with some homework, including a math problem. Or should I say, “Strategies for Subtracting to 100”. Now, I have an open mind when it comes to learning, and even more so when it comes to children and learning. I truly believe every individual “learns” differently. I happen to learn when I hear and see something at the same time. Ben is great at memorizing dates. He knows every single birthday of everyone in our family. Some children and adults need to read things first, then do it themselves.
One thing is for sure.
I truly do not believe in complicating and adding steps to processes in order to show multiple ways of working the same issue.
There is a name for that. Redundancy.
Enter what I can only assume is our first adventure into Common Core.
I have been hearing about this for years now through social media, blog posts, and even more so from my 2 nephews and a frustrated sister-in-law. It is now becoming apparent my wife and I are embarking into the unknown world of COMPLETELY useless thought processes.
Here is a picture of 5 different ways to subtract 67-34…
Does my son REALLY need to learn all five ways to jump to the 10, and count blocks, and have friendly numbers that add multiple steps to a somewhat straightforward math problem?
What if we just started with the algorithm way (which if I am not mistaken has worked for THOUSANDS OF YEARS), and test our children on whether the vast majority of them, “get it?”
If that does not seem to work, let’s move on to the number line, which does a dandy job of visualizing the numbers, but drastically increases the amount of writing, space, addition and subtraction. Just in that one problem, I made 39 different marks on one piece of paper! How is this making subtraction easier!?
Does anyone else agree with me?
Practicing and working hard to understand the basic principles of mathematics is important. Our children need to understand math and be able to do basic computations WITHOUT the use of a smart phone or calculator. But I do not see the point in COMPLICATING anything. And of all things, basic arithmetic.
That is why I named this blog “The Deconstructed Dad”. I believe it is incredibly important to have the skills of looking at complicated issues and understanding how to deconstruct or simplify them. This is not an easy task, as our incredibly complicated world continues to increase in speed and complexity. I believe this will be a skill in high demand in the future, and you better believe I am teaching my children how to solve problems by simplifying them.
So after it took 27 minutes for my 7-year-old son to show me how to do ONE math problem, I asked him which one of the 5 “Strategies for Subtracting to 100” he “liked” the best. Do you know which one he chose?
Yup, the one which has been around for a thousand years, and his old man can even understand. That is right folks, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. His “Pop” accountant will be proud.
I also told him the next time his teacher asked him to show his work, in order to understand his process – Daddy will not be mad if he forwards his teacher this classic clip from Abbott & Costello…
Just because you show your work, doesn’t always make it right!
PS. If you have a common core story – share it with us! Misery loves company. Reply below in the comments section now. I would love to hear it!