Common Core Math – Looked Simple to Me

There is apparently a big story these days with what is called the Common Core. While I am an educator my focus is primarily on technology and I teach adults. Even with that said I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about the Common Core until I read this article.

At this stage I haven’t done much research into the Common Core and I’m not writing this blog as a defense or an attack on it. I was just a bit amazed by the father’s reaction to the problem. I’m sure he’s had a lot more experience with the Common Core than have I and his reaction was likely an outburst related to accumulated feelings.

That being said, I’m a college dropout, not an EE, and it took me about ten seconds to see the method being taught for subtraction and it makes perfect sense. It’s exactly how I do math in my head when presented with a problem. The fact that someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering couldn’t figure this out is baffling to me. The father is also completely undermining the authority of the teacher and basically telling his child it’s fine to mock and ignore teachers. Good luck with that.

The original problem is a subtraction equation: 427 – 316. So, using base tens you subtract three one-hundreds, one ten, and six ones to arrive at 111. In the example the student failed to subtract the ten properly and went from 127 to 107.

The method being taught is very straightforward, and as I said, exactly the way I do subtraction in my head. The line at the top is an excellent representation of how I solve such a problem.

Please don’t take this as a defense of the Common Core as a whole because I don’t know enough about it to make such a statement. I’m just saying that the father’s reaction to this problem is nonsense, not the problem itself. Even then I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s likely this letter is the culmination of multiple frustrating events.

The process used is straight-forward and works perfectly. It takes about five seconds and can be done in the head instead of having to use a piece of paper to write down all the numbers. It’s, in my opinion, a better system for subtraction than the one the father presents.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Coming Soon: The Broken Throne

Cyberbully to Punish Cyberbully?

I just finished reading an interesting article about how the mother of a young girl found out that her daughter was engaged in online bullying of another girl. The mother then posted online a picture of the young girl holding up a sign admitting her actions and detailing her punishment (selling her iPod and donating the money to a Stop Bullying charity).

The article questioned the idea of punishing someone for a deed by inflicting that same misdeed to the transgressor. The girl bullied another girl over the internet and was now being punished by being bullied over the internet. I think it’s a conversation worth having.

Having no children myself, I know that I open myself up to second-guessing when looking into a topic like this but I’m willing to take the heat!

On one side we know that punishing wrong-doing is an important part of parenting. Certainly praising proper behavior is an extremely effective method of encouragement and should always be the biggest weapon in a parent’s arsenal. Still, there is no doubt that punishment is at times required.

On the other side is the idea that if we exhibit exactly the kind of behavior we are trying to stop our hypocrisy is painfully apparent to the person we are trying to correct. Not only is our punishment hypocritical but it is often completely counterproductive.

It is argued that such punishment is more about satisfying our own desire for control and vengeance than it is about rectifying the behavioral issues.

Study after study shows that children who are subject to violent punishment grow up to be abusers and violent criminals. There is absolutely no doubt about the correlation between child abuse and psychologically damaged adults who commit horrific crimes.

Let’s examine a stark example. Let’s say your child bites another child. Is biting your child an effective punishment? Does it teach them it’s perfectly okay to bite someone if you have power over them? Does it teach them not to bite?

But if we can’t punish a child for biting another child how will we stop the negative behavior?

It’s a dilemma. I would argue the answer is incorrect punishment exacerbates the problem that it tries to correct. That we must find correct punishment. Easy to say, certainly. Not easy to achieve, particularly in the heat of the moment.

Let’s look at the case in question. The girl used the internet to bully another girl. The parent tried to correct the problem by forcing the child to sell a possession, use the money garnered to support an anti-bullying cause, and post an embarrassing picture on the internet.

I would have suggested limiting use of the device used to commit the act, probably the computer. A personal apology to the girl in question. A few hours of volunteer time at an organization that helps combat such bullying. That being said, I don’t think the parent in this case was out-of-line. The punishment was designed around the issue and I think the daughter will be the better for it.

It was an interesting article. I think it is something every parent and society itself should keep in mind when meting out punishment for various crimes. We don’t want the result of our punishment to be that the person so disciplined becomes a worse human being.

Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for final solutions to complex issues. If you’re looking for easy answers, five-second fixes, and absolutes; well, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Too Much Help – Helicopter Parenting

There was an interesting article in the news this morning that struck a chord with my Libertarian philosophies. The basic idea is that parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives do them no favors.

The article cites one specific study and indicates that others show the same trend but also admits that when it comes to parenting there are a number of styles that offer success. I don’t have any children myself and I’m probably not the best person in the world to analyze the data but I can, at least, speak from having worked with juniors in several golf programs over the years.

Let’s first talk about the concepts of helicopter parenting. The idea is that for children to succeed in the super-competitive modern world parents need to be involved in every aspect of their lives. This hovering is especially noteworthy around school where every grade is argued for the student, specialized tutoring is offered to help write college entrance essays, and other things of this nature.

The argument against this kind of parenting is that children who are not allowed to fend for themselves become anxiety ridden and unable to cope with the problems that arise in their lives. It’s fairly self-evident to me that if you do not allow a person to solve their own problems they will never learn that skill for themselves. It’s analogous the nanny state that America is becoming and I’ve talked about that in other posts.

One of the things I find discouraging about this country is how many people complain about the government without the realization that they are complaining about themselves. We are the government. We have the government we want. We chose them. I’ve talked about that topic before. My point in mentioning it here is that the nanny state isn’t responsible for helicopter parenting, it is our helicopter parenting that causes us to become a nanny state. Our representatives are us.

One of the ideas that I found most interesting about this sort of behavior was that parents who engage in it are actually less emotionally available to their children. They use modern technology to keep tabs on their children, fight with teachers, and defend their kids as a way to show their love without actually having to spend time loving. It’s like someone who clicks the “Like” button to support a cause. Look at me! I care! I hate cancer! Look at me, look at me. I’m better than you because you don’t hate cancer. I’m the greatest parent ever.

I’m certainly not suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved in their children’s lives and their education. It just seems to me that a person who grows up not having to solve their own problems is not going to be a successful adult.

I’m reminded of my time at Spring Lake Golf Course in Quincy, IL under the direction of head pro Les Holcombe. We were teaching juniors when one little fellow came over to me and stated that “Jimmy took my club.” I was ready to offer my help when Les jumped in and said, “Then go take it back”. I immediately understood that Les was absolutely correct.

There are certainly circumstances of bullying, poor-teaching, and general life incidents that do require a parents intervention. I’m just suggesting that the first response to a  difficulty that arises should not be to solve the problem for the child. A person who grows up solving their own problems is a person who has a better chance to succeed in life. Isn’t that what any parent wants?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (watch Silenia grow from frightened lamb to an empowered young lady)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt