Almost every parent says –That’s not how I learned math. And the other day on Facebook, I read this
post: “I’m joining the bandwagon of new math gripers. I used to love helping my kids with math homework. It was actually a joy in my day. I have a minor in math. But now I find myself completely flummoxed trying to help my kid with her math homework. Argh.”
Another parent said to me, “I looked at how they were having them do the homework and I thought –this is a waste of time.”
So I decided to go straight to the source and ask a New Math instructor, Ms. Joy Jones of Alta Vista’s 1st grade.
Joy, parents aren’t feeling cozy with “new math” strategies. Any comment on that?
These new ways of solving math have been criticized and attacked but mostly because we tend to shy away from learning a new way of doing something. The way we were taught is ingrained in our brains, so to try another way to organize a math problem seems daunting, overwhelming and useless. But the question we don’t usually ask is, “Does it benefit my child’s learning style and brain?”
What would you say to parents who balk at these new math methods?
After learning, teaching and observing how these new systems work, I have to say it is important to give them a chance. The purpose of these is not to make learning more difficult or confusing, but it is to do the opposite. These new systems are meant to tap into the brain where other procedures just cannot. They won’t work for every student either. Some students like the more traditional way of working through a problem, where other students who may struggle with organization and place value may not grasp the more traditional concepts. Once they are taught a new way of working through an equation that supports their organizational woes, they are able to solve an equation independently while understanding how they arrived at the answer.
So, all you are saying is, Give New Math a chance. Didn’t John Lennon have a song like that or something?
No. That was “peace,” but the sentiment is the same.