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First Grade Math - Huh?

  1. Dec 3, 2013 #1
    I think I just had a confrontation with new math. My daughter was asked to show two ways of solving the problem 4 + 5. Naturally, she put

    4 + 5 = 9
    5 + 4 = 9

    To me, this demonstrates commutativity of addition, which is fundamental to arithmetic. Beside that, she is at the point where adding such small number is automatic.

    Well, she got the question wrong because she didn't draw circles in squares in one instance and sticks in another instance.

    Is this why America lags behind the rest of the world mathematically? I've always thought of myself as a liberal. Is this liberalism gone off a cliff?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2013 #2
    Thats ludicrous are you seriously telling me that they marked her wrong for answering that way? Did you contact the teacher ?
  4. Dec 3, 2013 #3
    I suggested to my wife it may be a good idea to mention it. But I think this is part of some wider philosophy on how to teach mathematics that is probably not informed by real mathematicians.
  5. Dec 3, 2013 #4
    Stupid, how is drawing two different sets of symbols two different methods?
  6. Dec 3, 2013 #5


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    Gold Member

    In these instances, I am always reminded of "Lockhart's Lament"

    It is somewhat long, but very well worth the read.

    Incidentally, I was also reminded of this in the "Should we teach elementary math" thread, which was somewhat abruptly closed before I was able to post it.

    Edit For Clarity:
    I think that your child's math teacher is probably following some very basic manual. The teacher may not even be aware (or remember) that the integers form a ring, and so are commutative. etc, etc.

    I find it very sad.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  7. Dec 3, 2013 #6
    I just found that the proper term for this sort of math is Everyday Math. Great way to catch up with the rest of the word - teach math as a series of disjoint circle and block games. What a joke.
  8. Dec 3, 2013 #7

    Hahaha. That's a good one.
  9. Dec 3, 2013 #8
    I've bookmarked "Lockhart's Lament". Looks like a good read.
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