Any reader who had difficulty comprehending a recent letter captioned “New math requires actual comprehension,” is not alone. The writer, Ben Lanier-Nabor, devotes several hundred words to illustrate and tout how the teaching of math problems such as “11+9” is handled in Common Core-style curriculums. Trouble is, a gold star need be conferred upon anyone who actually comprehends his explanation.

Additionally, there is within that letter, and its caption, a misapplication of the term “new math,” which properly used should refer to a math instructional approach which came on several decades ago.

In more bad news for Common Core boosters, the baby boomers that Mr. Lanier-Nabor loves to hate did better on ACT/SAT testing in part because, taking his example of “11+9,” they would very quickly deal with it in terms of math calculation/reasoning as combining the value of 10+1 and 10-1, thus instantly deriving 20. That expresses in exponentially less time the same factors that Common Core approaches literally draw out and is no less “true.” The only difference is that students under pre-Common Core math instructional techniques could quickly move on and master higher order skills, or in the case of the ACT/SAT complete more items. Pre-Common Core approaches were “good enough” (to use Mr. Lanier-Nabor’s derided phrase) to produce in my family a National Merit Scholar now teaching at a nearby university as well as a newly minted Ph.D. snapped up for a faculty position in California.

It is interesting to note that Common Core’s deliberate obstruction of the type of math reasoning “shorthand” illustrated above can cause students to reach more quickly for electronic/computerized calculation aids. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s exactly what Bill Gates and other great corporatist funders and pushers of Common Core would like to see.

Doug Roome

social worker, retired pupil appraisal examiner