If you have a child in elementary school, you’ve likely encountered the gigantic pain in the ass that is Common Core math. These standards have been adopted in all but seven states and the reactions from parents have not exactly been favorable. One dad hilariously took his displeasure straight to the source by writing out a check for his kid’s school — with the numbers drawn out in Common Core long form. Of course, no one old enough to be working at a bank now has any idea what it means so he’s snarkily proving what we all know — that Common Core math is overly complicated and not compatible when applied to most real-life situations.
Here is the check, with the dollar amount written out the way our children (if you live in a Common Core state, that is) are currently being taught. It is written in what’s called “long form”, with the numerals delineated in their own separate boxes for ones, tens, hundreds, etc. I can’t even figure out how much it’s worth and neither can anyone else in the internet, it seems. It could make your head spin:
This is hysterical. And sadly, an extremely familiar (and frustrating) sight to any parent with a child learning long form numbers. My daughter is in third grade and we’ve drawn out countless little charts like that over the last year or two to help her learn to write out numbers according to this method (numbers, not X’s and O’s — that’s next year in 4th grade). Parents are having to teach themselves all over again in a whole new way when the actual answers to the problems these charts are supposed to “help” solve are found a lot more easily doing it the way we already know. As this dad is cleverly proving, learning math this way doesn’t make sense for the real world. Opponents of this method (including myself) say that it’s making mountains out of mole hills while those supporting it say it’s teaching kids a way to work out larger problems down the line. It’s hard to see the value in it when applied in a real-world situation, such as writing out a check. It does seem needlessly complex when you could simply write out the dollar amount and not draw a little wall of cubes filled with digits or letters.
As someone who struggled with math growing up, it gives me a lot of anxiety trying to teach my kids an entirely different way of learning than what I grew up with, and I know I’m not the only one. It’s hard enough teaching them the way we do know and having to figure this all out as an adult gives us a tiny taste of what the kids are going through. I know that many parents are frustrated trying to reinvent the wheel with this new curriculum. The kids will have to be tested on it eventually and the pressure on their teachers is high — they need their classes to do well in order to keep their jobs in some cases. It’s very stressful for all involved and all parents can do is hope that their children are able to learn this way, since Common Core leaves little wiggle room for teachers to adapt to different learning styles.
As parents, we try to be supportive of our kids and their schools. We also try to support their teachers because even though we may not like or understand Common Core, it’s clearly not an individual instructor’s fault if their state demands they teach math this way. Seeing this dad make the point that these standards don’t work out in real life is pretty funny but also, jarring. Common Core is still relatively new but hopefully, the continuing outcry from parents, teachers and students will mean that change will come eventually. In the meantime, it’s comforting to see I’m not alone in wanting to put my head down on the kitchen table during homework time to cry.