“Daddy, I need your help,” the 7 year old says to me.
“Sure honey…with what?” I respond.
“Homework. Math. I don’t understand it.”
Second grade math. Easy. Addition. Subtraction. Piece. Of. Cake. Now is my chance to look like a Super Hero! Captain Mathman! Super Subtraction-man! The Great Additionanator!
With great pride and bravado I say, “Let’s see what we got going on here. Show me the problem.”
She walks the computer over and stops with a jolt. It’s still plugged into the wall.
That is the very last cute thing of this horrible tale you will read. Proceed at your own risk of hair and brain cell loss.
The 7 year old is frustrated.
“I don’t understand this problem,” she says all cute and doey eyed.
Jenny has 37 nude pictures on her iPhone 18. A hacker steals 19 of the pictures and uploads them to the internet. How many nude pictures does she have left?
I can do this one in my head….so I got this.
“Alright sweetie, what kind of math do we need to solve this…addition…subtraction…multiplication?”
She looks at me blankly. I read the problem to her again…slowly and loud like she was a person who didn’t speak English. Not that that works for people that speak a foreign language either, but as humans we tend to think; the louder, the better.
She looks at me and says, “42.”
I give her that disapproving look. The one that all parents have perfected. The one we think puts fear into our kid’s hearts, but actually they just make fun of us while our backs are turned.
I sighed. “If you guess, you will always get the answer wrong. Numbers are a pattern. They have a very specific order and repeat this order over and over. It’s easy. We talked about this before.”
She stares at me blankly again and says, “12?”
“NO!” I say much too loudly. She steps back. Oops. That wasn’t very Super Hero like. I take off my imaginary cape, tights, and boots. “Go get me a pencil and some paper.”
She skips away to find the items.
“Ok,” I pep talk to myself. “Don’t lose patience. This is easy. Guide her without giving her the answer. Be the Gandhi of math.”
I crack my neck and fingers like I was preparing for a title fight boxing math match. She skips back in the room.
“Ok, what type of problem is this?” I ask again. Calmer. Soothing.
“Subtraction?” she says guessing. I’m going to pretend it’s not a guess so that we can move forward before the sun sets.
“Right!” I responded all smiles. I pat her on the back. It’s a reinforcement thing….I think.
“So let’s set up this problem. We write it like this:”
“No you don’t Daddy. That’s wrong,” she tells me.
I look at what I wrote on the paper. I look at her. I look at what I wrote on the paper. “No, it’s not.”
“Daddy that’s not how you do it!” she is getting frustrated with me.
“No that’s how you do it. So, you can’t take 9 from 7, we have to borrow from the 3…”
“Daddy, what are you talking about? THAT’S NOT HOW WE DO IT!”
Frustrated tears roll down her cheeks.
“Ok,” I say. “How. Do. You. Do. It?”
From the other room the wife calls out, “They use Common Core Math now. You have to show her the way they learned it in school.”
“Great!” I call back feeling like I’m in an episode of Archie Bunker (and dating myself). “What’s Common Core Math?”
The Wife: “I don’t know. I can’t figure it out.”
I look at the child, “What’s Common Core Math? How do you do this in school?”
I hold her gently by the shoulders. “Honey. Sweetheart. How did they teach you in school to solve this problem?”
She shrugs again.
OK, now she is my fourth child. I know the “I didn’t pay attention in class” shrug “And now I want you to do my homework for me” bit. I have seen it before.
“Listen,” I say through gritted teeth. “They didn’t just send you home to work on homework they never taught you about. I know this. I went to school. How. Did. They. Solve. This. Problem. In. Class?”
Shrugs and tears. Mostly tears.
I want to kill the child. I have things to do. I will gladly stop doing these things to help my child learn, but if they can’t be bothered to pay attention in class…what’s the point of me missing Big Brother? I paid attention in class. I did my homework. Now it’s my turn to watch TV while my offspring grumbles and complains about school, homework, teachers, and boy bands.
But unlike my parents, who if they didn’t remember how to do it from there school days, I was screwed and on my own….I have Google!
Wonderful, amazing, Google!
Google, that suddenly one day magically appeared and opened the world up with knowledge, travel, maps, and pictures of grumpy cats!
Google! We toast thee Google!
“To Google!” I yell at the child who is now sobbing and heaving. “Don’t worry. Google will help. Google will make this all better! Dry your tears my child! It’s like we have emerged from the Zombie Apocalypse with a shotgun and a chainsaw full of gas!”
“I DON”T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!” the child screams and slams her fists into her legs.
I fire up Google, type in Common Core Math.
*23 minutes later*
I call to my wife, “I don’t understand this!”
Wife: Me neither!
Me: What are the boxes for?
Wife: I don’t know.
Me: Why are we rounding and adding for a subtraction problem?
Wife: I don’t know.
Me: This example they show is twenty seven steps long. The problem is 7 + 4.
Wife: I have no idea. This is how the schools do it now.
Me: Who’s in charge of the schools? Cheech and Chong? Because you have to be high to understand this! Did marijuana become legal in Florida and I missed that? Do they smoke it before they write text books now?
I turn to the child, “Let me smell your text book.”
Wife: I don’t know and stop scaring the child.
Side Note: Google is one of the greatest inventions of all time. For this article I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to spell marijuana. I typed into google the word: mariwana…which it politely came back with: Hey Chris…nothing for nothing here…after all you are the human…but…did you mean the word; marijuana…by any chance? If you want, I will search for information on the completely made up phonetic word mariwana. I don’t have a problem doing that. I’m just checking buddy. Don’t be mad.
I not mad at all Google. I am an idiot. Thank you so much! I love you!
Wife: What did Google say…beside how to spell marijuana correctly?
Me: I don’t know. I don’t understand this. I’m going to ask Common Core Math directly.
*Opens Facebook messenger.*
Me: Hey Common Core. I needs some explaining.
Common Core: I understand. People have been messaging me non stop for weeks now. Let’s solve 26 +17
Me: Easy. Add 6 and 7 and then 2 and 1. Done. 43.
Common Core. Wrong.
Me: No. The answer is 43. No matter how you look at it. I’ll even use the calculator on my phone if you like. I just downloaded a new one. It converts litters to gallons and tells me when my wedding anniversary is!
Common Core: Great! Focus here. Do you want to learn the new math or not? Don’t answer that. The first thing we have to do is add 26 + 17 by breaking apart numbers to make a ten.
Me: Oh, I see. Because 10s are easy to add and subtract. Nice.
Common Core: Right! So use a number that adds with the 6 in 26 to make a 10. Since 6 + 4 = 10, use 4.
Me: 4 what? What happened to 10s? There is no four in the problem. It’s 26 + 17. Why are we doing additional math to solve a math problem? Why don’t we just add the integers in front of us?
Common Core: Shut up. Think: 17 = 4 + 13.
Me: What? Why is the number 4 joining the party here? You are adding more math on top of the math!
Common Core: Would you please just listen! Add 26+4 which equals 30.
Me: Why wouldn’t I just add 26+ 17? Why are 30 and 4 here?
Common Core: I’m just going to ignore you. Add 30 + 13 to get 43! See! It works! If you would just pay attention.
Me: Can I ask a question here?
Common Core: No.
Me: Why am I solving for 4 and 30 again?
Common Core: You’re not essentially. You’re solving for 10s.
Me: We didn’t even use 10! Why are there six steps to my one?
Common Core: Because kids were not memorizing their numerical tables. They were just counting in their head and on their fingers.
Me: Like they would have to with your method as well. Like knowing 6 fingers plus 4 fingers equals 10 fingers.
Common Core: What? No! We are taking 5s and 10s as the place holder. We are making it easier and standard for everyone to get the answer.
Me: So let me get this straight. It’s easier to break apart the number 26 into the numbers 4, 6, and 10…which is three numbers now, not one…then taking that and essentially subtracting one of those numbers into the 17 to which we somehow now add into the first number again, to finally add two numbers that were not part of the original equation to get the answer that we would have gotten if we just added the 6 and the 7 and the 2 and the 1.
Common Core: Yes! See you got it! Easy!
Me: I have no idea what I just said though. My head hurts and my nose is bleeding from the stress. My kid is in tears. I called 7 different parents who immediately hung up on me when I said Common Core like I had just spoke the He Who Must Not Be Named’s name from Harry Potter… and I have spent thirty five minutes on a problem that should only take 5 seconds for the smart kids and maybe a minute in a half for the dumb kids.
Side Note: In Harry Potter they said Voldemort’s name a lot even though they were not suppose to say it. Ever notice that?
Common Core: Yes I have actually. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter though. This is actually so ever kid fails math, I mean…uses the same system.
Common Core: No, no. We improved it. Every kid will use our simple 37 step process now instead of what allows them to learn best. It doesn’t matter how kids learn the best as individuals…they learn our way or we give their school a bad rating which means no pizza at lunch! Do you want your kid to have pizza at lunch? Do you? You are a bad parent if you don’t! Chant with me! Pizza with Ranch! Pizza with Ranch! Common Core! Common Core!
Me: So, if my kid can’t learn your overly complicated math dance, you give the school a bad grade and they lose their pizza lunch. Right?
Common Core: Yes!
Me: So let me ask you this…If 13 students wanted Little Caesar’s pizza at $5 a box and each pizza was cut into equal pieces of 8 a pie…and 18 students wanted Domino’s pizza at $12 a box and it was cut into equal pieces of 12 a pie. How many minutes would it take some one stupid enough to use Common Core math to figure out how many slices of pizza were needed for the school to receive a “D” rating?
Common Core: That’s easy. First we turn the 5 into 10 and the 12 into 15. Then we take 15 and 10 which equals 25, subtract that from the devil’s butt and your school fails. My administration makes money off the text books and additional schooling the teachers need, until 5 years from now we realize this doesn’t work and introduce the new “retro” math system…which is the way you learned. Then we sell new text books and classes, make more money and everyone loses. Except pizza companies. There will always be pizza companies.