The new new new math

The concept of new math has been around since I was a kid in school. The compulsion for parents to complain about the new math has existed as long. Numbers have interacted with each other in the same way since counting was invented, but once every generation, a new genius came up with a better way to teach children what Johnny had left after he gave Cindy three of his apples.

The generational advancements in mathematical technique seem to come about every other year now. Either we’re producing new educational super-innovators at a highly accelerated rate or the educational super-innovator from the year before last wasn’t quite the bright light we were sold.

It seems like every time I get presented with one of my kids’ curriculums, it comes with the announcement that the school has started a new math program. In theory, each new math program is better than the last. I wait for my kids to make amazing advances in their understanding of arithmetic. They make plodding advancements, but any disappointment I may feel is soon washed away by news the school will soon be adopting an innovative new math curriculum.

None of these new maths has ever turned a child of mine into anything approaching a budding mathematician. They do succeed at making it impossible for me to give my kids any meaningful help with their math homework.

I assure you, I use arithmetic almost daily. At the risk of seeming a braggart, I am fairly accomplished at 1st-3rd grade level arithmetic.

Can I answer the questions on my kids’ homework assignments? No. I cannot.

Yesterday, my 3rd grader came to me for help with the following question:

“Enter the division that is shown when the fourth multiplier finger is down: ___ ÷ ___ = ___”

I don’t know what the fourth multiplier finger is, or what it means. I know a lot more about what the third finger means, and I just about gave it to this math program. Then I remembered a child was present.

Anyhow, shouldn’t a math problem have some sort of numbers or variables in it?

I found numbers very helpful for learning math.

Fortunately, my boy knew just enough about the mysterious fourth finger to teach me that it somehow meant 4 x 9 = 36. He was sketchy on how division worked into it, though.

Being the math geniuses we are, father and son alike, we reversed it to 36 ÷ 9 = 4. It turns out that was the right answer. Don’t ask me why. It’s a genius thing.

It seems like math is nowadays most important to education in figuring out how much money can be made by selling new and improved programs to schools biannually. Ages ago, I learned that 3 x 9 = 27 without having to flip off any innocent bystanders, but maybe not flipping off bystanders is the mark of someone whose time has passed.

Stay tuned, in case I learn how fingers 1, 2, and 5 are useful to mankind.

In case you thought I was exaggerating. Here’s the answer screen for the graded homework.


30 comments on “The new new new math

  1. AmyRose🌹 says:

    What happened to good old fashioned math? What does a forth multiplier finger have to do with numbers? I was asking as I read what IS a forth multiplier finger? I’d be using that third finger too if I had a question like that broached my way. I don’t get this new math. These poor kids! How frustrated they must be and how helpless their parents feel as well. What IS the point?

  2. Lisa V says:

    Agreed. Mine are in 9th grade and freshman in college. Thank goodness I don’t have to help the college student with her homework! But now with online learning and NO TEXTBOOKS, how in the world do we expect us to help? Good luck with that multiplier finger.

  3. It truly is ridiculous. Kids are taught Math SO differently from the way we have.
    I don’t remember the proper nomenclature, but I remember a couple of weeks ago, a woman on the radio was complaining about how she had to add some numbers before she could deduct some more to arrive at the answer to x-y.

    And the whole virtual homework annoys me. As if we needed any more screen time…

  4. GoofyEd says:

    The Greeks would certainly be confused.

    Sent from my iPad


  5. CrankyPants says:

    Oh man, math is a swear word in general with me. Add in new math and I don’t even want to think about it. Thankfully I don’t have to. There is something to be said for the third finger though.

  6. Tom W says:

    Have Alexa help the kids, she has all the answers. Just don’t ask her for the definition of a certain four letter word that begins with the sixth letter of the alphabet and ends with the eleventh. I tried once and she coped an attitude real quick.

  7. thegsandwich says:

    This is giving me a headache just reading about it. I bowed out of helping my kids in math around 6th grade. Fortunately, their father is good at it.

  8. markbialczak says:

    Well, Scott, much like you my best guess is that as long as four nines will always count up to 36, math will forever stay the same. Good luck with the new education, old friend!

  9. Just Joan says:

    I’m confused, Snoozin, but I’m with you on giving it the third finger rather than the fourth. Anyway, I thought you said these were ADVANCES in math. I thought fingers came BEFORE doing sums on paper, in your head, and on a calculator (with an abacus thrown in there somewhere). May the Fourth Be With You, my friend. 🙂

  10. Just Joan says:

    Whatever you say, Snoozin.

  11. Lynn says:

    Math used to be a subject where there was just right or wrong answer. Now it feels so complicated! The whole fourth finger multiplier being down thing? Wtf does that even mean? Good on you my friend for even making an attempt. I would be like, go ask your dad.🤔

  12. adamjasonp says:

    New and improved ways of …getting any money because schools are struggling? Another reason why getting an A+ only means you’re great at school not what they’re supposed to be teaching the kids.

    Math is at least important in finances. Kids will have to count money if they want to grow up…

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