As mothers, we understand one of the most critical components to our children’s young lives is their education. Since it’s time to ring in a new school year, the contributors at Fairfield County Moms Blog wanted to share some tips, tricks, and words of wisdom to help you through this exciting, yet stressful time. Be sure to keep a look out for our Education Series posts all this week!
If you are like me, you probably remember learning math by memorizing facts and following the steps the teacher told you to. No questions asked! It’s safe to say I thought I was bad at math until I was a sophomore in high school. Then when I started teaching, I remember being nervous about fractions and decimals. (I was teaching fifth grade at the time). After a few years, I became a master mathematics teacher and loved teaching it!
Of course, just as I felt confident in teaching it, the “new” math rolled out. Suddenly I felt like I was back in fourth grade, like my students, confused and unsure what to make of all this. What I quickly learned was this “new” math actually made solving problems easier, once I let go of the old math.
The new way focuses less on memorizing and more on strategies. Specifically, building on the basics to solidify understanding, rather than memorizing formulas that makes no sense. At first, it’s overwhelming, for sure, to those of us who already know how to “do math.” For example, why would we want to break up numbers to get to “friendly numbers” that make 10 or 100? The reality is you probably do it without thinking about it. Another example is the idea of adding up when subtracting. Most people hate subtracting, especially when it comes to “borrowing.” What exactly is that? Who knows? The truth is the new math also has new language, and calls this regrouping.
Multiplication is taught in a totally different way than I remember learning. We used to memorize the facts and had timed tests to see who was the fastest. Now the thought is to work with the concept of doubling. For example, if you can’t remember 4 x 6, break it down to 2 x 6 and then double it. Division, being the opposite of multiplication, is now taught as part of fact families or to be broken down into multiplication facts.
At the end of the day, what I see as the biggest difference this “new” math has changed is it’s shifted the focus away from memorizing. With everyone having some kind of smartphone readily available, there’s really no need to memorize anything anymore. “New” math works to strengthen mental math and understanding the what and how. Only time will tell, I suppose if the “new” math is the better math.