Math Is Not Interpretive Dance

math1222954353Our school district has been using an, um, -interesting- math curriculum for the last three years. David and I had puzzled over the work Jeffrey has brought home since kindergarten, but kind of figured the teachers must know what they were doing. Right? Rookie parent mistake. Not that the teachers didn’t know what they were doing- most of them are great, and they didn’t like the math program either. But they had to teach it.

Our math program has been “Interpretive” math. It’s been more about gleaning concepts from doing, about working with blocks and tiles and diagrams to absorb concepts. Which is a fine, nice idea- except that it’s not. Not teaching them anything that is. Math is not like art. Math is not fuzzy around the edges. Math is hard. And I mean a Hard Science, not difficult, though it may be that too.

When Jeffrey, who is generally a bright kid, struggled figuring out how add a column of numbers, alarm bells went off in Mama’s head. We’re talking basics here. His homework never contained basics- it was always things to cut out, to color, or to put into sets. David and I would sit at the table to help him, and be totally perplexed at how this was supposed to be math. A (large) group of parents began to make a lot of noise, and after some messy, loud district meetings, the Interpretive Dance Math Program was dropped.

So today I took Jeffrey to school to meet his new teacher and drop off his supplies (minus ink cartridge- don’t get me started), I was overjoyed to see the brand-spanking new textbooks on the counter. Textbooks! Not workbooks with pretty pictures and games. I picked the heavy book up and began to flip through it- and holy cow, it had actual MATH on page after page! And he will be working on a sheet of lined binder paper, from a textbook! I’m so happy I could flip. His new teacher, (and first man-teacher) was equally excited.

Who ever thought I would care about math? Me, the art major- who took business math in college to avoid any further algebra than my high-school career afforded. I can’t wait to do some long division and quiz his multiplication tables!

I’m OK, even love it, when the humanities are interpretive. But math? No way. Some things are just hard. And they need to stay that way. Funny how your priorities change when you become a mom…

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4 thoughts on “Math Is Not Interpretive Dance

  1. Amen! We put our boys in a charter school for a year, then took them out because of their math, or lack of it. My son was in 7th grade at the time, and is now a year behind the other kids in his grade because of it.

  2. Isn’t it true? once a mom you’re OK with the world being hard because you know it prepares your kids for life. And you know your children are the best and can handle it- when I’m not shaking in my boots. Ok, so maybe the largest emotion I feel as a mother is indecision.

  3. Your son has a man-teacher? :jealous:

    My younger son’s new school has no male teachers. 0. The empty set. The only males at his new school are the janitors.

    But that’s neither here nor there. I’m not sure what kind of math they’re teaching my kids, but it’s different from the way I learned math. My husband thinks it’s a good way to teach math, so I just trust his judgment, since he used to teach math (successfully, even). I only ever learned math, so what do I know?

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