My Turn: When did ‘word problem’ become ‘number story’?
When I was a kid, there was this joke about the “new math.” I didn’t get it then, because the math I did was the only math I knew. To me, “new math” was an inside joke between grown-ups usually promulgated on TV sitcoms.
Today, I get the joke. Funny thing about education (and when I say funny, I really mean frustrating); there’s a tendency to reinvent the wheel and repackage learning, seemingly every decade. I hope not more frequently than that. The term “word problem” evidently outlasted its usefulness, so today we have the “number story.” Multiplication tables must have failed generations of students, because now we solve “8 x 2 = x” with an “array.”
And, apparently the most effective way to learn measurement is to cut out, or draw, pictures of things we measure.
Thank God they let students draw the pictures, because all of my magazines and newspapers are in safekeeping with my encyclopedia collection, Rolodex, CD-ROMs and Palm Pilot.
Still, I try to be of some use to my second-grader. One thing has remained consistent among educators, and that’s the desire to have parents be involved and positively reinforce learning at home.
I’m not sure that sentiment necessarily applies to parents’ opinions, though. Having said that, one way to ensure that parents support their kids through school work is to maintain some consistency in the methods and nomenclature.
At least until “2 + 2” equals something other than four.
(Jamie Burnett lives in Concord.)