Common Core Math: Three Things Parents Need to Know

An inescapable part of conversations between parents and teachers in recent years has been Common Core. What is it, how does it work, why the old methods aren’t good enough, and scores of similar questions are on the minds of parents all across the United States. Here are three things math teachers are focusing on in response to those questions.

  1. Why is just as important as “how.”

Common Core’s math curriculum focuses on conceptual understanding, rather than memorization. In traditional American math education, concepts in math were taught by showing an example of the problem, how the answer is calculated, and then giving students homework to repeat the process.

Common core, in contrast to the traditional method, focuses on why the math is being done in the first place. Rather than memorizing multiplication tables and regurgitating it on command, students are meant to learn how the concepts of multiplication and division work through conversational learning. This is similar to the undergraduate and graduate method of learning where students and teachers discuss ideas and concepts conversationally, rather than with a lecturing method. This allows students who don’t learn in traditional methods to have an opportunity to have the concepts discussed in multiple ways.

  1. Yes, it hasn’t been explained very well.

The above paragraph has likely not been articulated to most parents in America. The public relations work surrounding Common Core has been fairly awful. Most parents, though they disdain Common Core standards and some even protest its use in American school systems, cannot say what Common Core actually is.

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Math teachers need to work harder to explain why Common Core works, and what it means for the future of American school system.

  1. Because Common Core is worth it.

Common Core, when it functions correctly, can help American students catch up to the rest of the world in mathematics. Not only does Common Core establish conversational learning practices that will help students succeed in college, but Common Core has a whole host of other benefits such as collaborative classroom dynamics, and increased passion for subject matter in the classroom.