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Common Core State Standards challenge myths of learning math

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 16:23 PM

The Common Core State Standards aim to provide high-quality education to American students. Teachers are seeing real world results in the classroom, but myths about learning, especially in mathematics, still remain. The Standards communicate what is expected from students but also challenge outdated ideas that were created by the curricula they replaced.

Myth 1: Only "math" people get math
One of the myths addressed by the Standards is that there are some students who are just good with numbers. These "math people" find mathematical concepts easy and interesting while individuals who do not are labeled something else like "word" or "art" people. Learning math then becomes something accessible only to "brainiacs,"  certain ethnicities and men, stigmatizing the people who are not considered to be in these groups. 

Brain research that supports CCSS shows that the brain has the incredible potential to grow and adapt. Therefore the idea that people are genetically predisposed to math is rendered invalid.

The human mind is capable of learning mathematics but each individual might have different needs. According to an article in The Atlantic by Jo Boaler, the Standards work to address those needs.

"... Some students are good at procedure execution, but may be less good at connecting methods, explaining their thinking, or representing ideas visually ... Narrow mathematics teaching combined with low and stereotypical expectations for students are the two main reasons that the U.S. is in dire mathematical straights." Boaler? said.

CCSS encourage students to use a wider variety of methods to approach a problem. A broader view of mathematics and the application of advancing technology are skills necessary for success in the modern world.

Myth 2: Faster is better
Another myth that Standards challenge is the idea that people who are good at math are fast. From flash cards to competitive timed exams, the education system rewards students who can run procedural executions quickly even if the foundational concepts of the procedure and its relationship to other forms of mathematics is not fully understood.

The curriculum operates on the philosophy that slower progress that is deep and meaningful is more beneficial than rote memorization and mechanical application. A student who can justify his or her answers and explain the reasoning behind it is practicing critical skills that are extremely marketable in the workforce.

The Common Core State Standards are relatively new, but have opened doors for students that were previously locked.