I'll admit it: I spend way too much time on Facebook. My excuse is that not only do I tutor long-distance clients through Messenger, it keeps me connected to people that might need my services and connected to the feel of student and parent needs in general. Most of the time, my Facebooking is a mix of marketing, time-wasting, and actual business, but every now and again, I get great questions that allow me to really talk about my favorite subject - math education. Moments like that are relatively rare, so when I got this question, you can imagine my excitement!

"Cherrelle, just out of curiosity, how do you teach math? Do you teach the common core math? And since you know more about education than I do, how would it impact a kid now to learn it the old way when they go to college (or any other furthering education)? I've wondered about this since I'm not sure I want to send my kids to public school..."

Isn't that a great question? "How would it impact a kid to learn it the old way when they go to college (or any other furthering education)?" So many parents see the math that kids are coming home with now and say it's useless. Maybe they think it is too hard or complicated. They'll say "That's not how I learned it. What's wrong with

*just memorizing it*?" Let me ask, how's that working out for ya? How many times do you find yourself unable to count change backwards or not catching a mistake at the grocery store because you can't remember the formula for price per unit? Kids now need to know math that works for their lives, not just for their tests. They need to be able to apply the mathematical concepts they've learned to their real life and they need to be able to do it mentally.I learned everything straight memorization, "the old way", and struggled a fair amount in higher level classes, because the old way (memorization) does not help a student think critically. Because they can't think of multiplication being anything other than the fact that 3x2=6 and division being anything other than the fact that 6/2=3, they don't understand that 3+3=3x2=6/2=3. Sure, memorization is easy and you can string that together out of memory, but in that world, none of those facts are related - they just exist and can be plugged in, never mind why. In the Common Core curriculum based world, all of those numbers are true. Not only are they true, but because kids know WHY they are true. They can take that fact and use it to apply to any new set of numbers, even if they've never seen them before. They no longer have to memorize 9,000 facts, just one set of properties. Yes, it takes longer to learn, but the end result is far more beneficial than just memorizing a table. Here's why I think so:

When I started tutoring, Common Core-based curriculum was just getting a foot hold. Most adults hated it (and still do) because they didn't (and still don't) understand it. At base, what Common Core actually is, is a set of standards that all kids in every state have to meet so that if their parents move from Alabama to New York, that kid isn't so far behind that they can't catch up or isn't so far ahead that they have to skip grades. Now, the implementation was undoubtedly poor, because Alabama is backwoods and borderline retarded, but the concept is sound. Anyway, when I first started tutoring, I decided that to be an effective tutor, I needed to learn what the kids were learning, the way that they learned it. I grabbed the Common Core Go Math! workbooks for 2nd-5th grades and actually worked through them, using the strategies that the books taught. It blew. my. mind. These kids are learning not just formula; they are learning math theory. They are learning concepts that I didn't see until my junior year of college. They are learning to see numbers as tools to be used and manipulated. They are learning that numbers are not set in stone, that they can be broken up and put back together so that you don't even need a pencil and paper to figure it out. Mental math is taught as a matter of course, not trick.

Not only did I see how the kids were learning, but it actually DRASTICALLY improved my performance in my 300 and 400 level math courses. I discovered that 4th graders understood mathematical theory better than I did, could apply it better, could do it faster, and could do it all in their head! From personal experience, I can say 100% without a doubt that any kid that learns the old way and does not have a natural talent in mathematics will find themselves at the bottom of the class when they go to college, because they have memorized a formula without understanding it and have not learned the process and manipulation of basic mathematical concepts.

As to teaching it, I've got a few different ways I do it. If I'm tutoring and picking up the slack for the public schools, I expand on what the teacher has taught in class and show the kids mental math tricks and formula application that they won't get in school. If a homeschool parent has a curriculum they want me to follow, I do basically the same thing with the materials they give me. If I have free reign, I take the standards we want to accomplish, check them with the state requirements and design lessons that mix real world application, mental math, and physical calculation.

If you are interested in furthering a basic idea of math, here's a few resources:

When I started tutoring, Common Core-based curriculum was just getting a foot hold. Most adults hated it (and still do) because they didn't (and still don't) understand it. At base, what Common Core actually is, is a set of standards that all kids in every state have to meet so that if their parents move from Alabama to New York, that kid isn't so far behind that they can't catch up or isn't so far ahead that they have to skip grades. Now, the implementation was undoubtedly poor, because Alabama is backwoods and borderline retarded, but the concept is sound. Anyway, when I first started tutoring, I decided that to be an effective tutor, I needed to learn what the kids were learning, the way that they learned it. I grabbed the Common Core Go Math! workbooks for 2nd-5th grades and actually worked through them, using the strategies that the books taught. It blew. my. mind. These kids are learning not just formula; they are learning math theory. They are learning concepts that I didn't see until my junior year of college. They are learning to see numbers as tools to be used and manipulated. They are learning that numbers are not set in stone, that they can be broken up and put back together so that you don't even need a pencil and paper to figure it out. Mental math is taught as a matter of course, not trick.

Not only did I see how the kids were learning, but it actually DRASTICALLY improved my performance in my 300 and 400 level math courses. I discovered that 4th graders understood mathematical theory better than I did, could apply it better, could do it faster, and could do it all in their head! From personal experience, I can say 100% without a doubt that any kid that learns the old way and does not have a natural talent in mathematics will find themselves at the bottom of the class when they go to college, because they have memorized a formula without understanding it and have not learned the process and manipulation of basic mathematical concepts.

As to teaching it, I've got a few different ways I do it. If I'm tutoring and picking up the slack for the public schools, I expand on what the teacher has taught in class and show the kids mental math tricks and formula application that they won't get in school. If a homeschool parent has a curriculum they want me to follow, I do basically the same thing with the materials they give me. If I have free reign, I take the standards we want to accomplish, check them with the state requirements and design lessons that mix real world application, mental math, and physical calculation.

If you are interested in furthering a basic idea of math, here's a few resources:

- For the type of mental math that is often taught to common core students: "The Secrets of Mental Math" by A. Benjamin and M. Shermer
- For an overall good way to learn middle/high school math concepts: "Demathtifying" by Ilan Samson
- For an understanding of why numbers are the way they are and behave the way the way they do : "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" by Seife
- And as always, check out reddit: Mental Math

## "If it was good enough for me, it's good enough for them, right?"

I think that's where the challenge is (and why I have a business!) . People who are naturally good at math and can naturally conceptualize what they've learned have no problem with the old way. For them, memorization was just another way to do something they already had a feel for, which is great. It's just another tool in the bucket.

The biggest problem I see is that those people have a hard time passing that understanding on to others. It's like art. My brother can just DO it, you know? We can take the same class that shows the same techniques and what he ends up with will have

The biggest problem I see is that those people have a hard time passing that understanding on to others. It's like art. My brother can just DO it, you know? We can take the same class that shows the same techniques and what he ends up with will have

*soul*. What I end up may technically look like is supposed to, I'll have memorized the technique, but it won't "speak" to anyone. It's just lines on a paper that I've drawn the way I was told I was supposed to. Because that's my brother's talent, he can take that memorization and his brain will automatically make the connections and develop the shortcuts, but mine won't. If your kids have that natural talent, they'll most likely end up developing and discovering the mental math tricks on their own over time. If they don't, the methods teachers started to use after Common Core was implemented will help their mind make those connections, as long as*you* are open to it, as well, and set a good example.