# Are there places that still do "Core Math"?

LightningInAJar
Summary:: Still doing it?

Are there places that still do core math? Is that still a thing or did they get rid of it? I have seen videos describing it and it seems very inefficient to do math that way.

Mentor
Summary:: Still doing it?

Are there places that still do core math? Is that still a thing or did they get rid of it? I have seen videos describing it and it seems very inefficient to do math that way.
Can you post a link to the curriculum that you mean? What years were the main years that it was taught, and in what countries/etc.?

Mentor
Often a change of math curriculum elicits complaints from the parents as they try to help their kids. This may not be a fair comparison of its benefits as the parents don't invest the time to understand it since its different from when they went to school.

I went through the post WW2 curriculum where you did things by rote. We memorized everything times tables, addition tables ... Later, when my brothers went to school it was the "New Math" with concepts using set theory diagrams. Now its "Core Math".

Each curriculum change was a result of people realizing there was a deficit in the current teaching method that had to be fixed. The new math was an attempt to fix the issue of people not knowing the concepts and hence not being able to apply math to realworld problems. The Core Math was an attempt to fix the New Math issue of people understanding the concepts but without enough experience with real problems.

Here's some more reading material on the differences:

https://theconversation.com/the-common-core-is-todays-new-math-which-is-actually-a-good-thing-46585

One takeaway is that the new math of the 1960's was due to the Sputnik Effect where schools rushed to make scientists and engineers for our future competition with the USSR.

My old math teacher confirmed this when I asked how our school could afford the old Olivetti Programma 101 computers at $3200 a pop ($26K today). Our school got three units. He said it was due to Sputnik and how easy it was to get govt grants awarded for anything that was math or science related.

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jsgruszynski, sysprog, FactChecker and 2 others
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Common Core still exists as an initial intuitive method. It then transforms into faster, shortcut methods. I don't think that the common core methods are necessarily left as the final methods for the class to use.
Parents hate Common Core because they don't remember that there ever was any need for beginning intuition and they don't know what is going on.

vela and jedishrfu
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My own experiences with my son were: Dad I'm having trouble with this Algebra problem. Okay let me see, well if you do this, this and this you'll have the answer.

What? That's not what my teacher said.

A few more explanations about my solution vs what the teacher wants (I don't know what the teacher wants or taught maybe you son misunderstood it) and a few more minutes of frustration ensue between father and son:

Until... Oh I get it.

With my son thinking "Thanks Dad now get lost as I struggled with the next problem and call you back" but instead saying "OH That's it" and then running off to finish his homework and then out the door escaping the glare of parents to play with friends.

sysprog, Astronuc, berkeman and 1 other person
LightningInAJar
Core math is after my time. But it doesn't appear like anything new is added. Just adds steps. Are people getting dumber?

I mean if we used to remember tables for quick reference how little RAM do kid's brains have now that it needs to be broken down into this?

Gold Member
Core math is after my time. But it doesn't appear like anything new is added. Just adds steps. Are people getting dumber?

No, people are not getting dumber. This is for children just being introduced to multiplication. The goal is to leave fewer behind, just in case they turn out to be smart after all.

LightningInAJar
I think core math might have existed in the 70s at one time also but was ended.

Gold Member
I think core math might have existed in the 70s at one time also but was ended.
They were still teaching the method of multiplication in the video a couple of years ago. But that was not where they left it. After a few weeks, they went on to more traditional methods, motivated by the core math thinking.

sysprog
Homework Helper
Gold Member
@jedishrfu
post #3, the two articles hyperlinked - nice. They are at the same time a bit detailed to be read in just one read-session.

At one time and place (if not others) , multiplication was also taught using a Lattice Method. The method was good and if done carefully, allowed us to avoid place-value mistakes but to most people, the method appeared crazy. Later, upon studying the Distributive Property (like in first course on "Algebra") , we found we could use this for both base-ten numbers and also for polynomials.

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MidgetDwarf
Often a change of math curriculum elicits complaints from the parents as they try to help their kids. This may not be a fair comparison of its benefits as the parents don't invest the time to understand it since its different from when they went to school.

I went through the post WW2 curriculum where you did things by rote. We memorized everything times tables, addition tables ... Later, when my brothers went to school it was the "New Math" with concepts using set theory diagrams. Now its "Core Math".

Each curriculum change was a result of people realizing there was a deficit in the current teaching method that had to be fixed. The new math was an attempt to fix the issue of people not knowing the concepts and hence not being able to apply math to realworld problems. The Core Math was an attempt to fix the New Math issue of people understanding the concepts but without enough experience with real problems.

Here's some more reading material on the differences:

https://theconversation.com/the-common-core-is-todays-new-math-which-is-actually-a-good-thing-46585

One takeaway is that the new math of the 1960's was due to the Sputnik Effect where schools rushed to make scientists and engineers for our future competition with the USSR.

My old math teacher confirmed this when I asked how our school could afford the old Olivetti Programma 101 computers at $3200 a pop ($26K today). Our school got three units. He said it was due to Sputnik and how easy it was to get govt grants awarded for anything that was math or science related.
True! Something to take into account: a large number of math/physics book written during the New Math era were written with care from professionals in the field. Compare this to the Common Core books of today, which look like comic books.

berkeman and jedishrfu
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True! Something to take into account: a large number of math/physics book written during the New Math era were written with care from professionals in the field. Compare this to the Common Core books of today, which look like comic books.
Not sure some of what I saw were the "Common Core" type, but I have seen a few textbooks of varying quality - some excellent, others not so - which did include some extra junk that was distracting, making viewing and using the information on the pages difficult. Even as bad or worse, some books include internet hyperlinks or sometimes software discs (or they did); my sense says, if the information is important then it must be printed as instructional documentation in the actual book!

sysprog
Mentor
I went through the post WW2 curriculum where you did things by rote. We memorized everything times tables, addition tables ... Later, when my brothers went to school it was the "New Math" with concepts using set theory diagrams.
Which in hindsight was probably a bad idea. I don't recall us memorizing "everything," other than the times table (up to 12 x 12) and addition facts and how to do long division.
I mean if we used to remember tables for quick reference how little RAM do kid's brains have now that it needs to be broken down into this?
IMO, a little bit of memorization goes a long way., but that idea seems to be in conflict with some (misguided, IMO) folks who push for the latest fad in teaching. What little I've seen of the so-called "core math" seems like something dreamed up by the people with Ed degrees and very little math background. I'm speaking from the perspective of having taught high school math for two years, and college math for 20 years.

At the college where I worked, one of my fellow teachers had a master's in something, and then continued to get an EdD (doctorate in Ed). Another teacher asked him, "Why didn't you get a "real" degree?

sysprog and symbolipoint
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I had a similar experience. A guy at work told me about a Math Ed PhD program that his wife chaired.

I looked into it and saw some stat that said Math Ed folks got higher salaries than Math PhDs.

I asked him about it and his funny response was: Thats what Math PhDs wanted to know too

PhDeezNutz and sysprog
To the OP, most states (40) still use the Common Core curriculum standards as a foundation for their programs. A few (4) never adopted it one only partially adopted it and some (5) opted out after a while, My state Florida is opting/transitioning out starting in 2020. Florida has created its own Lit/language and Math standards called "Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking " (B.E.S.T.) These are available online. The Math standard is 234 pages.It was supposedly written mostly by actual teachers.

Last year I tried to help my grandson (7th grade) in late winter last year. He did well first semester but suddenly starts getting poor grades. I got a copy of his book (see standards based on the Common Core) actually a workbook (666+ pages). It is used for both 6th and 7th grades. Based on the general approach to the presentation of the material is a cacophony of multicolored text, pictures, notes, exercises, examples, directions, URL references, and QR codes directing the student to online help and assessment. What a difference from a 50's workbook. Is it better? Considering the US is mired in mediocrity in the math part of the PISA exam I am not sure we are seeing results, math is 38th. The science part is a lot better (19th) but not world-leading and reading is the best (13th).. Maybe we should see what the Canadians are doing since they are significantly better than the US in every category
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Was the "New Math" program a knee-jerk reaction to the Sputnik launch like Bezos changing career because a classmate seemed smarter than he? Was it justified? After all, the US fell behind the Russians in one narrow event. What were we thinking, the country that invented the transistor and the laser, the digital computer, integrated circuit, perfected the nuclear reactor but missed by three months putting a simple satellite into orbit. All these scientists and engineering trained with archaic teaching methods using books lucky to have black and white photographs and depending on individual teachers to make sure the students were learning.

I wonder if too many cooks are not spoiling the broth. Yet there is always another commission or committee formed to study the issue. Another mountain of money is thrown at the problem. You would think by now that the courses in critical thinking would be paying off.

symbolipoint
Mentor
With respect to the Sputnik satellite that isn't a fair assessment. Originally, countries were vying for a geophysical satellite with various sensors and telemetry for the IGY. The Soviets couldn't pack everything into Sputnik in time and so opted for a simple radio transmitter.

https://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/siddiqi.html

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_924.html

Sputnik fear had quite an effect on our homework which I didn't know:

https://www.history.com/news/homework-cold-war-sputnik

Our HS math department head was able to buy three Olivetti Programma 101 at $3200 a pop (about$20k in todays currency) computers for our school using a govt grant to promote STEM subjects. He said the money was there for those who were bold enough to write a grant.

Sputnik inspired some English students to track and decode the Sputnik signals betraying the satellite 's secrets:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-36027407

and NOVA did a show on their exploits:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/sputnik-declassified/

It's not unlike the famous Frank Shorter Olympic marathon where some guy out of nowhere jumped into the race to run the final track leg getting all the applause until announcers realized he was an imposter. Frank came into the track totally confused hearing all the boos because he thought he was out in front.

https://usopm.org/frank-shorter/#:~...Shorter entered Olympic,of the 26.2 mile race.

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Homework Helper
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@gleem, post #15, excellent thoughts. Why do people lose their sense and make things so messy?

Mentor
All these scientists and engineering trained with archaic teaching methods using books lucky to have black and white photographs and depending on individual teachers to make sure the students were learning.
Couldn't agree more...
I wonder if too many cooks are not spoiling the broth. Yet there is always another commission or committee formed to study the issue. Another mountain of money is thrown at the problem.
All those people with Ed. D. degrees have to do something to show how clever they are, whether or not the schemes bear fruit.

mpresic3
Based on the general approach to the presentation of the material is a cacophony of multicolored text, pictures, notes, exercises, examples, directions, URL references, and QR codes directing the student to online help and assessment.
Wait till you read what I have to write. I was reading, Spacetime and Geometry, by Sean M Carroll. See post 15. The textbook was written for readers in their first years of graduate study in physics, typically 23-24 year old adults, who are likely in their top form in intellectual prowess, like strong young lions. You expect the book to be no-nonsense, and it is not a bad book, although it borrows much of it's material from Wald's textbook, which is harder.

Anyway, it occurred to me all of a sudden that I was overlooking something. Many books use bold faced type to denote vectors. Indeed, at one time, before advances in typography due to computer word processing, many scientists and mathematicians and researchers used tilda's over vectors to indicate to the typesetter to use bold-faced type before sending the manuscript off for publication.

Back to the main point, throughout the textbook, the "important words" are put in bold faced type for the reader. On page 29, "Maxwell's Equations" is put in bold faced type. Skipping over many other bold words, page 37 emboldens "Lagrangian" and "Lagrange's equations". Page 59 contains both bold, "Diffeomorphic" and "open ball"

Really, does anybody thing the top students studying relativity in the country/ and world at the peak of their intellectual prowess are going to overlook such concepts because the words were not distinguished by boldfaced type? Does the publisher consider boldfaced type a "grabber" where the consumer is willing to pay a little extra for a book so equipped? Does anyone know what's going on here?

I remember about 15 years ago, my grand nephew, about grad-stduent age now, had an assignment in elementary school to color the nouns red and the verbs green in a number of sentences. I was perplexed at such an english assignment. No wonder he did not like English in school. When my neice told me her son was going to have to miss part of school the next day, I wryly suggested, he was going to miss out on the day to color the verbs red and the nouns green. Maybe the current textbooks are a holdover from these early lessons.

I taught physics recitation and labs for around 6 years in the 1980's and I heard more than a few excuses for late assighments or bad test performance. I have never heard the excuse that the textbook did not use pretty colors or bold-faced type to distinguish the important ideas. Are top books in Surgery, Immunology, and or Law also so prettified?

gleem, jedishrfu and symbolipoint
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I taught physics recitation and labs for around 6 years in the 1980's and I heard more than a few excuses for late assighments or bad test performance. I have never heard the excuse that the textbook did not use pretty colors or bold-faced type to distinguish the important ideas. Are top books in Surgery, Immunology, and or Law also so prettified?
Clear enough for anyone who reads this.

Excuse my earlier omission. The quoting was yours but putting that last part into bold type and italicized was my doing. Done for emphasis.

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jedishrfu
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The boldface could be an artifact of internet links in print if the book is available for online access.

Really, does anybody thing the top students studying relativity in the country/ and world at the peak of their intellectual prowess are going to overlook such concepts because the words were not distinguished by boldfaced type?

How do these students deal with a classic like Dirac's Quantum Mechanics with no figures or is it relegated to the dust bin?

I have a 1990 edition of Serway's "Physics for Scientists and Engineers". It has ten pages devoted to explaining the features of the text including the use of color eg. velocity vectors are red displacement vectors are black,...

How would today's students cope with the likes of Halliday and Resnick or Sears and Zemansky of the late 50's.

I used Shortley and Williams. The only use of bold lettering is for the headings of the sections, vectors, and important terms that were defined. Important ideas were set in italics. Just a couple of black and white photos, Equations were set off in double space and when needed for reference were numbered. Important equations had a box around them.

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