ObamaMath: “Common Core” curriculum to infect Catholic Schools?

ObamaMath is coming!

Remember in the 1960’s when the pointy-headed nitwits tried “New Math” on kids?  I sure do.  It was a total failure so… hey! Let’s try it again!

Get this.

Obama math: under new Common Core, 3 x 4 = 11

Quick: what’s 3 x 4?

If you said 11 — or, hell, if you said 7, pi, or infinity squared — that’s just fine under the Common Core, the new national curriculum that the Obama administration will impose on American public school students this fall.

In a pretty amazing YouTube video [below], Amanda August, a curriculum coordinator in a suburb of Chicago called Grayslake, explains that getting the right answer in math just doesn’t matter as long as kids can explain the necessarily faulty reasoning they used to get to that wrong answer. [This was the New Math notion tried in the ’60’s.  I was actually punished once for using “long division” (which my grandmother taught me) … even though I was the only one in class to get the right answer.]

“Even if they said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how,” August says in the video.

When someone in the audience (presumably a parent, but it’s not certain) asks if teachers will be, you know, correcting students who don’t know rudimentary arithmetic instantly, August makes another meandering, longwinded statement.

“We want our students to compute correctly but the emphasis is really moving more towards the explanation, and the how, and the why, and ‘can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer,’” August details. “And not just knowing that it’s 12, but why is it 12? How do I know that?”


For more about Common Core infecting Catholic schools, check this out. HERE

Dave Herman wanted to enroll his daughters in a Catholic elementary school so they could learn in an intimate, traditional setting, where parents had as much input as possible.
He found that at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Roseto, where his daughters learned about faith and morality as well as math and English. The girls loved the school, and Herman considered the more than $3,000 annual tuition per student money well spent.
But three years later, as his oldest daughter is entering sixth grade, Herman is at odds with the school of about 140 students.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, along with the 42 other schools overseen by the Allentown Catholic Diocese in the Lehigh Valley region, is adopting aspects of the controversial Common Core standards, which emphasize critical thinking and career and college readiness.

In response, Herman and his wife, Cheryl, have decided to pull their daughters from Our Lady of Mount Carmel and teach them through a Catholic home-school program.
As long as there is any Common Core in the diocese, we will not be going back there,” Herman said, adding that other parents he knows also are considering home schooling because of the new standards.
Across the country, Common Core is causing the same concern among parents, who fear the standards — endorsed by the Obama administration — will dumb down Catholic school education and replace it with secular lessons no different from those at public schools.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AdIesumPerMariam says:

    Big brother is getting stronger. It’s almost enough to make my skin crawl…

  2. pberginjr says:

    Our parish bulletin had an insert this weekend (the Mass, btw, was a transferred celebration of the Queenship of Mary–our parish’s patronal feast–featuring our PP in a polyester plain white chasuble with multicolored stole (although mostly blue) worn on the outside) that mentioned the results of a survey about improving (read getting more enrollment) the school. One of the top concerns was student math skills, which they said they were going to address by studying and emphasizing “Common Core” methods across the curriculum. I flew off the handle at the mention of CC but my wife pointed out that it’s not like our kids are going there, so what do I care.

    They also mentioned something about decreasing enrollment being an issue, citing decreasing birth-rates, but failed to mention in the “solutions” section a new emphasis on NFP and large families. No surprises here, considering my liturgical experience (this is where they move the blessing of the sacred fire at the Easter Vigil to AFTER the readings because then all of those readings aren’t such a let down after blessing the fire) and the homilies I’ve heard from the PP over the past year, just more of the same.

  3. Sandy says:

    This Common Core is evil and many are working to overturn decisions to put it in their schools! Michelle Malkin has written about it often.

  4. wmeyer says:

    I nearly escaped, but was hit by the New Math just in time for Algebra II in high school. The teacher nearly understood the concepts, and he was a fairly new graduate. We in the class never had a chance.

    But as I recall, the arguments for it were:
    – it is easier (a lie)
    – students need to learn to use number bases other than 10 (another lie, unless you work with computers)
    – students need to learn to work with sets (mostly a lie, again, unless you work with computers)

    And this was in the middle 60s (I graduated in 1966), so just how many had access to a computer? In high school? Almost zero.

    The New Math was almost as big a disaster as the International Teaching Alphabet, which I am sure they will resurrect any day now. Those fools, had they read Shaw, would have known that 44 distinct phonemes are required for English, and the 34 characters they offered therefore cannot provide an unambiguous guide to pronunciation.

    Please, please, please… bring back McGuffey’s Readers. I am afraid that volume 6 of that venerable series would challenge most teachers in the classroom today.

  5. Imrahil says:

    What I genuinely dislike is when something poses as a relief which to anyone with an eye to look is a crying increase of difficulty. Quite typical of (English-language) liberal things, though. And when you point out that they are difficult, then (and only then) they’ll pride themselves of it as if it was good in itself.

    I do not disagree with the idea of giving points (and the main part of them) for the “way of calculation” or acknowledge “errors of consequency” (although that makes transition difficulties when at university they are suddenly no longer acknowledged), which has long been the practice in Germany. Nevertheless…

    the idea that a student should be required to explain why three times four is twelve is preposterous. And let me be clear about that: it is preposterous because it is excessively demanding the pupil. This is the sort of question you might legitimately ask a MSc math student who is taking a seminary in set theory.

    What was about that good old thing: look at what the children want?

    In primary school, children (if you mentally separate them from laziness and disinterest which sometimes pop up) want to know what three times four is, and they want to be able to give an answer and give a “period!” to it. Period.

    They do not want to get their common sense out-philosophized.

    And neither do I, least of all in company of an “but oh how mild on the children are we, compared with older generations, as we are decreasing our demands of correctness” attitude.

  6. Gretchen says:

    I was a guinea pig for the New Math (in the early 70s) in my public school. They took away the rows of desks and had us all sit in a big circle to learn. Endless explanations of how to do math, and if you didn’t show how you got your answer you got points off. Also tried to teach us the metric system. Still don’t know the metric system, except for liter bottles of soda pop. ;-)

  7. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    The Common Core curriculum has been of concern to many parents in the Boston archdiocese. The superintendent of Catholic schools worked to implement the program as one of her last moves before announcing her departure. Concerned Catholic parents were unable to meet with the superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, despite many attempts. It will be a lasting part of a legacy of O’Neill’s tenure, which was marked by a decline in enrollments and furor over her salary of nearly $350,000 a year (far more than that of superintendents in major urban school systems).

    For anyone interested in the details of the dispute in Boston, here’s a link to a local blog on the subject: http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/boston-catholic-schools-implementing-controversial-common-core-curriculum/

    And also on O’Neill and the decline of Catholic education in Boston: http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/350kyear-boston-catholic-schools-superintendent-leaving/

  8. Velle Mere says:

    Earlier this year, Seton Home Study School posted the following regarding common core on its blog:


  9. teomatteo says:

    I’m no teacher but my wife has taught in public schools for 27 years and she doesn’t have a problem with the common core that some people do. She showed me the website that her school has re the new standards (that I understand came from the states and not from Obama) and I just don’t see the evil that some do.

  10. Bob B. says:

    The invariable cottage industries spring up, as well. New testing, revised testing, periodic testing, books, new books and new bureaucracies are created, to the delight of many who make money off of education.
    Bill Gates’ Common Core makes use of videos and technology to teach, replacing many of the tried and true methods of education. Kids will watch TV or play video games all day if they are left to their own devices (no pun intended). This doesn’t mean they will learn anything.
    Almost all states have adopted Common Core because they want the money the Federal government will keep if they don’t (i.e., they won’t return our tax dollars). As “experts” begin touting a system that hasn’t been implemented, many Catholic administrators are joining the band wagon, making their weighty pronouncements, demanding compliance. Do they have to? No. What has occurred is a lack of vision as to what made Catholic education great and how it surpassed public education along the way. They have to earn their huge salaries someway and they love to say, “This is the way it is, if you don’t like it, there’s the door.”
    Learning times tables, prayers, nursery rhymes, cursive writing, etc, were common place things that children were expected to learn by rote. Heard, in reply, from one administrator, “Why? Students can look them up on-line.” Let’s hope the system doesn’t go down and computer devices are allowed in churches, much less learning the Faith. Few pieces of classic literature are read and even learning math is becoming taught as more of a survey than in-depth.
    What I mean is everything in Math is timed: a 2-3 minute video, a lecture of 10 minutes, sample problems for 10 minutes, in-class and homework with all the answers provided and a 1-2 question quiz is just too much (if students have a question, they are supposed to come after school – one cannot disrupt the space-time continuum). I was instructed to not be so harsh when it came to grading. If no answer was given, you had to give a “1” (50%); a little work on the problem, with no answer, a “2” (60%), etc. Especially for the latter, a 2.5 (70%) was “more appropriate.” A “C” for an incorrect answer? The implication is clear.
    Just wait, Father, for the classes of students who come over for Confession when the network goes down and the teachers say they’ll have to come back because they can’t use their i-Pads!

  11. Andrew says:

    I like this. I’m gonna use this next year on my tax return.

  12. Cafea Fruor says:

    And just who is going to accept responsibility when future engineers, having been subjected to ObamaMath as children, can’t build a proper dam/bridge/skyscraper/tower in 2050 so that it falls down in a slight breeze in 2052 and kills hundreds of people because these engineers were raised to think that 4 x 3 = whatever they want so long as they can explain it? All the explaining of how they arrived at the bad math that went into the building of a bad structure isn’t going to do one iota of good then. Good grief.

  13. Patrick-K says:

    ” Common Core standards, which emphasize critical thinking and career and college readiness”

    Critical thinking can mean just about anything, but is often a codeword for relativism.

    It’s highly unlikely that explaining your answer will be more useful skill than getting the correct answer for someone who wants a career in, say, accounting or really just about any other job.

    College readiness is another vague concept that can mean almost anything anyone wants it to. Considering the amount of PC indoctrination that passes for college educations, it’s not encouraging.

    In general, the high theory surrounding elementary school teaching is absurd. Teaching children reading, writing, and arithmatic is just not very complicated. You explain it, answer their questions, and give them tests. But I suppose the PhD’s in the Dept. of Education need something to do all day. Here’s a quotation taken at random from the Common Core web site:

    content standards and curricula are coherent if they are: articulated over time as a sequence of topics and performances that are logical and reflect, where appropriate, the sequential or hierarchical nature of the disciplinary content from which the subject matter derives. That is, what and how students are taught should reflect not only the topics that fall within a certain academic discipline, but also the key ideas that determine how knowledge is organized and generated within that discipline. This implies that “to be coherent,” a set of content standards must evolve from particulars (e.g., the meaning and operations of whole numbers, including simple math facts and routine computational procedures associated with whole numbers and fractions) to deeper structures inherent in the discipline. These deeper structures then serve as a means for connecting the particulars (such as an understanding of the rational number system and its properties)

    I can see why “to be coherent” is in scare quotes…

  14. Facta Non Verba says:

    So, this has me pondering why is 3 X 4 = 12? My explanation would probably be, “because that’s the answer.” Circular reason, I realize; likely unacceptable and not worthy of a good grade.

  15. wmeyer says:

    Facta, you are right, it’s not a good answer, but on the other hand, a formal proof is not something likely to be expected below college level.

  16. Phil_NL says:

    Imrahil his the nail on the head: “the idea that a student should be required to explain why three times four is twelve is preposterous. And let me be clear about that: it is preposterous because it is excessively demanding the pupil. This is the sort of question you might legitimately ask a MSc math student who is taking a seminar in set theory.” (corrected a typo)

    In fact, any Math grad student who tucks a summary of set theory on the answer to the straightforward question what 3 x 4 is, deserves a good intellectual smacking by his professor, cause he’ll lack the insight in what constitutes relevant knowledge.

    And with that concept 9relevant knwoledge) we arrive at the root of the problem: to many in education, (post)modernism – in the intellectual sense, not in the way it is usually used on this forum – is so much part of their outlook that they will discard the notion that an answer is not up for debate. And in a world where there’s only debate, and no facts, only the way you debate counts (which, is incidentally also the best way to get your way without having any argument on your side; you pretend the arguments don’t matter). And if you see the world as a world without truths, it’s only natural that kids don’t have to learn truths. Truth would not be relevant knowledge in their minds, again, only argumentation would clear that hurdle.

    And for the record: I’m all for teaching students to argue their answer. My field is economics, and there that’s a necessity, especially since a dozen economists mean a dozen opinions, each with insufficient facts to convince the others. (Unless one of the 12 is Keynes, in which case you have 13 opinions and no-one maintains his sanity long enough to ask for the facts). But before students reach that point, they first have to learn to asses the facts that we do have, and one of the skills absolutely required for that is being able to multiply without fault.

    And last but not least, there’s an age for everything. 6 year olds are perfectly capable of multiplying 3 by 4, but they simply lack the brain development to develop a complicated argument.* That will need at least another 6 years or so, and often more than ten.

    * They may not be able to develop a complicated argument, but of course they are able to make arguments complicated (why? because!!), but that’s a whole other matter.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Facta non verba,

    well, let’s take the Peano axioms for granted. (Actually, in the modern approach, they are not “axioms”, but proven from the definition of natural numbers as sets with a successor operation, but for not overly complicating things let’s take them for granted which means we actually have natural numbers and a successor operation on them.)

    Now what is 3 and what is 4? Three is simply a customary writing for 0”’, (‘ means “successor”), while 4, guess what, is 0””.

    Multiplication is defined recursively by addition (n*0 := 0, (n*m’) := (n*m) + n. Hence we have 3*4 = 3*3 + 3 = 3*2 + 3 + 3 = 3*1 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 3*0 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 0 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 which is of course intuitively clear.

    Addition, again, is defined recursively by the successor operation, n + 0 := n, n+m’ := (n+m)’. Thus in calculating 0+3+3+3+3, (liberally exchanging 2′ with 3 and the like, and in addition let A be a merely writing abbreviation for “+3″), then we have 0+3+3+3+3 = 0+3 AAA = (0+2)’ AAA = (0+1)” AAA = (0+0)”’ AAA = 0”’ AAA = 3 AAA = 3 + 3 AA = (3+2)’ AA = (3+1)” AA = (3+0)”’ AA = 3”’ AA = 6 +3 A = (6+2)’ A = (6+1)” A = (6+0)”’ A = 6”’ A = 9 + 3 = (9+2)’ = (9+1)” = (9+0)”’ = 9”’ = 12.

    Does look strikingly like “because that’s the way it is”, only the mathematician would say “that’s the way it was defined”.

    Excuse the fun.

  18. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I’m confused once more. What exactly is the problem? As a German, I don’t understand very much about the US education system, but to me this sounds like: “OK, you’ve explained why you think 3×4=11, lets take your logic and go from there to arrive at the correct answer which is 12.”

    It sounds like they’re trying to address the underlying reasoning and correct logical mistakes, rather than actually making 3×4=11.

    Can anyone explain to me whether I misunderstood?

  19. Adam Welp says:

    At the end of the last school year, when I found out that the State of Indiana was rethinking the whole Common Core mess, I decided to contact the principal of my son’s school (he goes to our parish school). He informed me that the plans to fully impliment Common Core in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis were still full steam ahead. I called the Education office at the Archdiocese, but they have yet to return my call. I can’t believe that, for once, the public schools will be ahead of the curve regarding Common Core.

  20. Facta Non Verba says:

    Dear Imrahil,
    Thanks for clearing that up. I must have been disregarding Peano axioms.
    ; )
    Facta Non Verba

  21. AdIesumPerMariam says:

    I wonder if anyone behind this thought about this as being another strike against the existence of objective truths and on that same line objective morality. I know at least for me personally, simple math is an argument I use in proving objective truth and a stepping stone I use to talk about objective moral truth… I think I’m just starting to truly realize how clever the demonic is in its attack. Liars all the same, but clever.

  22. anilwang says:

    Being a Canadian born in 1969, I’m not sure “New Math” was ever implemented in Ontario, so I’m not exactly sure what it is or if I learnt it. From what I understand, the main difference between “New Math” and “Old Math” is the the first requires you to know how you got an answer (understand variables and sets) and the latter was just rote memorization.

    If this description is accurate, then I don’t see how it can be all that different fron socratic reasoning which was a part of classical education, and it is an essential skill. Anyone who has programmed a basic spreadsheet (i.e. most secretaries and non-pure humanities university students) has had to deal with variables and sets. Anyone who has had to read a legal contract has had to deal with precisely defined variables (“party of the first part”, “lessor”, “lessee”, etc). So it appears that I might have learnt it.

    The key problem I’ve found is precisely the opposite has happened and this essential skill has not been taught.

    Phonics has been abandoned in favour of picking up spelling by osmosis, I only learnt grammar because from my languages classes. Logical thinking has been replaced by being table to tell a good convincing/emotional story — being consistent and being based on sound premises are secondary. As a result, there’s a lot of muddled thinking because the basics of reasoning aren’t covered, and we have the current society where arguments in favour of “The New Atheism” and “Abortion” would embarrass atheists and pro-abortion supporters of the pre-1930s.

    WRT not mattering if the answer is correct, I hope that was a gross over-simplification. A wrong answer is a wrong answer. However, if you got the right answer due to faulty reasoning, you should get zero since you got the right answer only by fluke. And if you got the wrong answer but had the right reasoning it’s fair to give part marks…depending on the type of error and the teacher’s discretion. However, even if its clear you knew your stuff and made a stupid mistake in one step out of twenty, you shouldn’t get full marks since your mistake could have had real life consequences.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear @ClavesCoelorum,

    it might be unproblematic if it remains a mere option for the student when he is wrong to explain himself and maybe get a point out of three in an exam. Fine. But I don’t suppose it is meant as optional, and I don’t suppose the option would be used often anyway.

    Well, if you’re German maybe you also had that “half-written multiplication” which meant that in the third year, you could not just say 12*25 = 300 or calculate
    25*12 = 300
    as we would be allowed in fourth year (written multiplication), but write
    12 * 25 =
    10 * 20 = 200
    2 * 20 = 40
    10 * 5 = 50
    2 * 5 = (1)10
    12 * 25 = 300.

    That did get on one’s nerves.

  24. MAJ Tony says:

    Well, I don’t know about 2013, let alone 2025, but they would never make it through my 1995-96 Fort Sill, OK Field Artillery Officer Basic Course (FAOBC) if they couldn’t manually compute various and sundry unusual math problems to an accuracy of “Zero-point-[scat]”, one of which involved what our Gunnery instructors (mostly USMC Captains, as FA School is a joint op) referred to as “prison math” as a memory aid (for reasons of decorum, that needn’t be broached in this forum, pun intended). and the other odd math problem I specifically recall involved solving a problem involving meterological data using a 3 color portrait format spreadsheet referred to for obvious reasons as a “Christmas Tree Card.” Most of that is done using automation, but the thinking of the day (and I believe it to be valuable now) is that by going through the manual process, you’ll understand the effect the different variables (wind speed, wind direction, air density, etc.) have on trajectory, and be able to spot errors in a database as a result.

  25. contrarian says:

    Can I just say: I love the fact that we’re discussing Peano Axioms on a Catholic blog thread.

    As per the video posted, if the child said the answer was 11, then there’s either an easily fixable semantic confusion or a deeper and much more relevant confusion related to how one multiplies– perhaps attributable to some (conceivable) problem in spatial reasoning. Yes, we aim for more than brute memorization in any field. But I have a hard time following the argument of the woman in the video regarding the child’s answer. Perhaps, though, she’s merely saying that one aims for more than brute memorization. Duly noted, for sure.

    All I know is that I went to a pretty old-fashioned, knuckle wrapping Lutheran school. We were all, compared to the neighboring schools, ‘good at math’, and I’m quite sure that none of our teachers were aware of these innovate breakthroughs in pedagogy.

    However, perhaps this information is, as per the woman in the video, neither here nor there.

  26. RobW says:

    Orwell’s 1984 is here…2+2=5…if little Johnny says it does.

  27. Sam Schmitt says:

    I have the same questions as ClavesCoelorum. It is never stated that the student will not be corrected or will be given credit on a test for getting an incorrect answer. The other stuff on the video might be dumb and objectionable, but we are the ones who look dumb if we misrepresent the other side and claim they said something they didn’t.

  28. Alaina says:

    The common core curriculum was presented this past year in our parish school. At the back-to-school meeting last September, it was “We are going to teach the common core standard curriculum. It’s an effort to make sure that all the children across the country are on the same page.” Hmm. I soon found out that common core curriculum gives you just enough information to get by, hopefully. The Cliff Notes to education. Sure, parents may see their children receiving good grades, however, some of the same children will eventually decrease in academic standing. There will always be the children who excel no matter what educational circumstances they have. However, more children will be categorized as needing extra help, when really they would be doing very well if their education gave them a foundation. The common core curriculum gives children information, not the ability to turn that information into knowledge. Knowledge builds confidence, passion, and the desire to learn more. That’s what makes a student ready for college and a career.

    When I expressed concern about the curriculum to other parents, many of them said, “Oh, I’m glad they’re not teaching *blank*. I hated doing that in school.” Huh?! And, by the way, when the common core curriculum enters your Catholic school, your children get the Cliff Note version of religious education as well. I guess the children need more time to learn how not to learn, leaving little time for religious education.

    If you share my opinion, you may need to medicate yourself before helping your children with their homework if the common core curriculum is being taught in their school. Now more than ever, a parent’s role as an educator (of heaven and earth) is necessary.

  29. contrarian says:

    Sam Schmitt @ 5:34: I agree. Good point.

  30. APX says:

    Cafea Fruor took the words right out of my mouth. This rates right up there with the public schools in my home city which banned red ink and using X’s to correct work (too negative and psychologically traumatizing), using the term “brain showering” instead of “brainstorming” (brainstorming is too scary), and then in 2010 did away with late penalties and penalties for plagiarizing (school should be learning based rather than behavioral based).

    It’s only a matter of time before we become a society of over-sensitive, psychologically-impaired cheating procrastinating sissies who can’t do basic math, let alone advanced calculus, with no time management skills or morals.

    On a side note, I think my mom might have taught me “new math” to some degree when helping me with my homework, which worked for me, but my math stills are still terrible and quadratic equations and fractions give me anxiety attacks.

  31. mamajen says:

    Maybe if they explained that they were smoking a joint while they multiplied 3 x 4 I could understand how they arrived at 11, but otherwise how on earth would someone explain such a thing?

    When it comes to very advanced mathematics I can understand partial credit for being on the right track, but for basic stuff? Ridiculous, and undermining.

  32. OrthodoxChick says:

    Well, I’ll let you all know how it goes. Common core is coming to my children’s Catholic school beginning in 10 days. This school still prays the Angelus at noon, Grace before lunch, and an Act of Contrition right before dismissal. It also still makes kids parse sentences to learn grammar like back in the good ‘ol days so I’m hoping the common core has little to no impact.

    NCEA seems to be all gung ho about it though:


  33. Evovae says:

    Sam: I have the same questions as ClavesCoelorum. It is never stated that the student will not be corrected or will be given credit on a test for getting an incorrect answer. The other stuff on the video might be dumb and objectionable, but we are the ones who look dumb if we misrepresent the other side and claim they said something they didn’t.

    Part of the problem is that the coordinator used a stunningly bad example, which in turn calls into question the competence of the coordinator to evaluate the details and implementation of the planned curriculum.

    But even then, the fact that she falls right into a false dichotomy (“Even if they said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how“) is quite egregious.

    She should have had the wherewithal to say something like, ‘of course we insist that children learn the right answer, but what is new and different is an emphasis on the skill of being able to explain how they got that answer and why it is right. Just as an explanation for a wrong answer is useless for making it right, a right answer without a clear explanation does not inspire much confidence.’ I don’t think that would have raised any eyebrows.

    But she, the expert, didn’t say that. Instead, she said something that justifies general concern that correct answers and a general insistence upon accuracy will be shortchanged as the “focus” shifts to more conceptual matters that, while important, are much harder to assess and consequently much easier to glide over without the assurance that anything concrete has been learned, esp. in the earlier grades when students’ verbal abilities to explain are much weaker . This concern is further justified by the fact that this seems to be precisely what happened before with the “New Math”, where a wonderful high-level curriculum was developed and tested out well, but it was poorly implemented because there weren’t enough teachers who were competent enough to deliver on its promises. If you trust that you have a good teacher who knows math well, then Common Core will be great. If not, well…good luck.

  34. APX says:


    3 x 4
    = 3 + 4
    = 7 + 4
    = 11

    3 x 4 = 11 because if you add 3 and 4 together you get seven. The times symbol has four sections to it and if you add 4 plus 7 the answer is eleven, thus 3×4=11. Yea! I get an A+ because I could manipulate the question in such a way to make up my own answer.

  35. Alaina says:

    @Orthodox Chick
    I hope it goes well for you. Ah, parsing sentences. They were the good ol’ days! :) I better stop before I start flashing back to phonics and grammar bees with Sr. Mary Presentation.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, this topic really gets my blood boiling!

    As an expert in problem-solving theory and as someone who has both taught middle school math and does research-level mathematical modeling, I must say that the whole Common Core math program is simply poorly thought out, and will produce, in my opinion, no substantial improvement in mathematics in this country for one simple reason: their foundational axioms are wrong. The reason that China, Japan and other countries in southern Asia and some European countries do better in math than the U. S. is because of family pressure. That is all. The states cannot exert pressure for families to consider education as a make-or-break thing as they are in these other countries, so they cannot duplicate the conditions in high-achieving countries without substantial social engineering. They know that. They have to know that.

    Everything else is a smoke-screen.

    First off, there was NOTHING wrong with the New Math of the 1960’s in mathematical terms. It was just implemented horribly. Everybody knows that, now.

    Unlike the New Math, the Common Core, in principle, is a form of developmentally-graded mathematics very similar to what we have had in most states for years. In practice, it seems to involve Constructivism at certain stages, which, in my opinion, is highly dangerous, as it is an unproven method of teaching, which, by the way, is not used in the high-performing countries. Make no mistake, learning is, at the beginning, rote. Not all of Common Core is, from what I can see, Constructivist, but I don’t see it making the best use of age-specific abilities.

    I spent some time studying Bill Gate’s “Reverse Classroom,” methodology (coming to a college course, near you). It is great for getting rid of teachers and substituting them with a de-personalized constructivist mentality, but, in the end, it doesn’t work terribly well. My brother, unfortunately, is at the forefront of developing these techniques for college science courses. I think he will discover the fad that they are, soon enough. The example Fr. Z mentions seems to have an echo of this method. I would have to see it implemented, in fact, to know if constructivism is an unspoken part of the methodology in the Core Curriculum as developed for the states by these experts.

    I had the privilege of playing a command performance in Japan back in the 1980s and the Japanese high school group that played on the program was technically brilliant, but had no soul. They played all of the notes and missed the music. When one of the students made a mistake during practice, the student raised his hand, stood up, and bowed in guilt. This is uniculture dynamics, writ large and cannot be adapted to the U. S. – not in music and not in math, although there are sporadic pocket methods, such as Suzuki, in music, that can produce excellent technique (but, note, they are largely based on memorization). In the U. S., we are known for being cowboys, for being mavericks. Why is it that people flock to graduate schools in the U. S.? We innovate. Many other cultures improve on the original idea, but it is the U. S. where we break the mold. This stubborn independence is the hallmark of American culture and it is around this cultural attribute that the teachers must develop their curriculum, not a uniculture initiative that is doomed to fail.

    The people who wrote this curriculum seem to forget that math is not rediscovered every time someone sits down to work a problem. Other people have had good thoughts that form a backbone that you can use to build your model or put flesh on an old solution. You need to know certain things as a common language before you get the right to invent a story. As in music, one must master the scales before one starts inventing jazz. Why can’t these educators see that?

    We KNOW how to solve problems, more or less. George Polya wrote a book on mathematical heuristics that we now know works (we don’t completely understand it, but it seems to be the way the best mathematical human minds work). The New Math was supposed to be an implementation of his ideas, but we didn’t understand them enough in the 1960’s, so we screwed up with the New Math. Once we had a better understanding of AI, we learned that his ideas were correct, but we misapplied them in the teaching setting back then. Google, “George Polya, How to Solve it.” It will explain his relatively simple technique. His method, in fact, demands that one have access to CORRECTLY worked problems available to learn from. His method is the foundation of every problem-solving methodology in use in problem-solving research, today. The Common Core seems to have some of the ideas down, but not in an age-proper setting. I’d be willing to bet that no neuro-scientist was involved in developing this Core. We know, more or less, at what stages the child develops spatial skills, numeral skills, etc. These standards do not seem to correspond with these stages, at least as I know them (I am not a developmental neuro-scientist, so I may have to review the literature, but something smells fishy).

    My twin brother, as a college science professor, co-write one of the high school science curricula for the state of Texas back in the 1990’s which has had great results (Texas scores very high among states in the nation in the hard sciences). It would be interesting to talk to him about the Common Core nonsense, since they are supposed to take the approaches from the highest performing states, so they should, certainly, ask him to participate, when they get around to the science Common Core. The thing is, at least in the hard sciences, it is not the science that messes up people, it is the math, AND YET, in none of the Common Core curricula, will you see them teaching students how to apply math outside of the math classroom. What I mean by that is that I have seen students who can graph a straight line, so they know the slope-line intercept formula, but they can’t recognize that Boyle’s Law, the Temperature Conversion formula, etc. are just instantiations if that slope-line intercept form. This is a failure for mathematics teaching. My math instructors brought real problems to the table that forced us to apply the material to real-life situations. I would be pleasantly surprised if students, ten years from now are more adept at applying math than they are, today.

    Just because you can explain how you got 3 x 4 = 11, doesn’t mean, in fact, that you may be any where near having a correct method. In terms of the solution space, you might be very far from the correct solution path. 3 x 4 = 12 is a fact, not an opinion, at least in N (the set of natural numbers). It is true, that an engineer could properly write 3 x 4 = 11 O(1), which would be correct, but someone who knows Big-O notation, much less Dedekind Cuts (the basis for one of the proofs that 1 + 1 =2), should not be taking fourth-grade math

    I see students, every day, who are hampered because they don’t own simple math. In my day, you had to use a pencil and paper (or slide rule), so you had to learn short-cuts and really know numbers.

    A test: who can multiply, 1347586 x 11 in 5 seconds or less without a calculator? I can. Who can calculate (95)^2 in less than two seconds? Max Born, the man who gave the probabilistic interpretation of Quantum Mechanics could. He and Richard Feynman used to race each other to the answer. Along with memorization, basic calculational art is going by the wayside.

    It all has to do with preserving culture. Memory preserves culture. Without a cultural history, the history of a group becomes whatever the men in power say it is. Learning the multiplication table is one way to stick it to the man. Perhaps, if we sold learning the times table as a subversive activity, more people would want to join along.

    As Feynman once said and the Natural Law keeps proving in arena, after arena, after arena:

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    Yet, is that not what we try to do more and more these days, in mathematics, in reproduction, in marriage, at least as they are provided to the common people: to fool nature? There is a sinister hand that ties together the strands of math and marriage, of multiplication of numbers and multiplication of people. Hasn’t anyone, yet, seen that homosexuality and the constructivist component of Common Core math are exactly the same thing: adding up the numbers any way you like – acceptance as long as there is a rational? These methods are put forth to the common folk as means of hiding the fact that there are consequences to sin. The common folk are being taught to reason from the handbook of darkness and diabolical methods, at least in these techniques (I am not saying the Common Core, itself, is diabolical).

    That being said, I did go back and study the Common Core in some detail. It can be found (to satisfy Sam Schmitt, from above), here:


    As I say, the foundational axioms are wrong. They want to reproduce the results of high math achieving cultures without copying the culture and THAT has never been tested, scientifically. There is no science behind this, although they claim there is. They cite a lot of scientific research, but none of it, actually, related to the goals of the program, as stated: to prepare students for college and replicate the success of foreign programs. It fails as science because they have not established a reproducible base-line behavior that does is not influenced by culture.

    I know how to teach math. I know what I should expect of my students. I spend hours each week tutoring them. Why don’t they just ask us people who teach college about what we see as the failures of the system. We spend hours and hours every year grousing about it.

    Note for the Common Core experts: its a cultural problem, not a math teaching problem. Get over yourselves. Stabilize the culture and we won’t need you. Proof: most of the people doing well in the S. E. Asia region are selected students. Common students actually don’t get reflected in the statistics. Have you ever wondered why music students have the highest point averages among college undergrads? Answer that question and you might know a thing or two. Hint: they are already the cream-of-the crop in music by the time they get to college. They must audition to even get into the college music school (nothing at all like the SAT, by the way) and they must stand in front of a jury, a one-shot pass-or-fail, each semester or quarter. You do the same for math students and our performance will shoot up like crazy. Then, you can properly compare countries.

    The Chicken

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, one morething:

    In the Myths vs. Facts section of the Common Core website, they claim that the Federal Government is not involved in this. Rather, they claim, it is a state-led project. Then, they turn around and proclaim that the Federal Government might provide, “incentives.” It is to laugh.

    The Chicken

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    Even one more thing:

    one of the sponsors is the National Education Association (NEA). Yeah, no government influence, there.

    The Chicken

  39. everett says:

    The crazy thing in all of this is that Catholic schools don’t have to do the Common Core. These things are tied to state funding and Race to the Top and Federal Funds, which Catholic schools have nothing to do with. Rather than implementing the thoroughly mediocre and mushy Common Core, how about a thorough evaluation of your current curriculum as compared to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the long-standing tradition of Catholic education. Which Catholic education was the one that produced large numbers of saints and faithful? Hint: it’s been around a long time. Rather than trying to keep inventing new methods of education, maybe we should stick with what actual works.

    “In response, Herman and his wife, Cheryl, have decided to pull their daughters from Our Lady of Mount Carmel and teach them through a Catholic home-school program.
    “As long as there is any Common Core in the diocese, we will not be going back there,” Herman said, adding that other parents he knows also are considering home schooling because of the new standards.”

    Excellent. Catholic home-school programs are doing their best to lead the charge against the Common Core, particularly its use in Catholic schools. So far as I am aware, no major Catholic home school program is planning on implementing the Common Core.

  40. mamajen says:



  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    For those who are tempted to mock the teacher cited in the article, above, Polya’s last step in problem solving is:

    Looking Back

    Fourth. Examine the solution obtained.
    Can you check the result? Can you check the argument?
    Can you derive the solution differently? Can you see it at a glance?
    Can you use the result, or the method, for some other problem?

    I think this, rather than constructivist techniques was what the teacher cited in the article was trying to explain, but if so, she seems to have done it, badly. This approach, however, is, in my opinion, not appropriate to learning simple numerical computations at the beginning level. Again, Polya pre-supposed a certain amount of facts in the brain.

    The Chicken

  42. The Cobbler says:

    As with formal and material logic, it’s important to know not only what is true, but how to reason from one true thing to another; however, to emphasize thinking about your reasoning without regard even for the reasoning being valid, let alone your premises and conclusion being true, is ultimately to destroy even that reasoning on top of disregarding truth — it is simply the inverse error of not considering the reasoning in the first place, and the graver form, since what ignorance of reason accomplishes through negligence devaluation of reason’s validity does by malice, as it were.

    Children are not naturally dumbasses, though; they dislike being wrong, but if there’s one thing they dislike more than being wrong it’s being babied (which is to say, being deprived of even the theoretical possibility of being right, especially right by their own genius, under the guise of having their hands held). Imagine, if you will, the difficulty of convincing children half of whom do not care about the lesson to sit down and pay attention, and then imagine for comparison the difficulty of convincing of the same children half of whom still do not care about the lesson and the other half now hate it because it tells them they cannot really achieve (does anyone really think little Timmy will care about his teacher’s praise once he realizes that she praises every moronic explanation his peers suggest merely for being a suggested explanation, and once he starts trying to critique those other explanations from his peers only to be put down?), and you have some idea of the challenge of dumbing children down; if rising generations are spoiled and stupid it surely has far more to do with how adolescence (which is to say, the inexperienced years of adulthood — at least, that is what they are naturally, though they haven’t been in what seems like ages) is manipulated into either pampering or empty rebellion.

    It would take quite some care to figure out how one would have to act to ensure the image of a rebel hero standing up for actually being able to know and do things and not to wind up being portrayed as the mean kid who thinks the other kids are wrong, and still more care to figure out how to teach a kid to act that way, but I suspect it will be entirely possible to raise children who can severely disrupt, if not altogether thwart, attempts to dumb down their peers. The real question is whether they can make enough of an impression on said peers to influence their view of the world when they are adolescents; that, I don’t know.

    Of course, we might want to discuss the morality of sending children to fight intellectual wars before we do it in any case, otherwise our good Fathers might have to hear some very odd Confessions in the coming years.

    With all that said, I could as easily write the same of modern (if not all) public school in general, nevermind the Common Core. Why any Catholic school would jump at the chance to become the public school of the future plus the Catholic school’s extra price tag is beyond me — I can only suppose that either the people running the Catholic schools have no understanding of economics, offering the same goods at a higher price, or else that they exist to educate the sort of foolish people who make that same sort of mistake from the buyer’s side; I don’t know.

  43. APX says:


    That picture reminds me of one of my college exams. It was a Yes or No question and I had no clue what it was. I did what any noble college student does when they need to make an uneducated guess- I resorted to eenie meenie miney moe and chose whatever the end result was. There was a second part to the question requesting an explanation of how I came to that conclusion. I boldly stated that “Eenie meenie miney moe told me so.” I didn’t get the right answer, but I still got marks for making my instructor laugh. More proof that one should never just give up on a question they don’t know the answer to and leave it blank.

  44. Marc says:

    I’m not as worried about common core as I am with the fact the “Catholic” schools are not CATHOLIC! We pulled our children out because the “Catholic” school was adamant about keeping the risen Christ crosses in every classroom instead of replacing them with donated Crucifixes….and that they would not have the 3rd graders say the Apostles Creed because so many did not know it…and that the sports games (Volleyball, Track, Basketball, etc) took precedence over even Sunday Mass. These are only a couple of the many things that convinced my wife and I to homeschool.

  45. The Cobbler says:

    …Why did I bother spending so much time editting my own post? The Chicken has arrived.

  46. And we wonder why we can’t land on the moon again . . . or even have an astronaut NASA program any longer.

  47. Gretchen says:

    Here is a teacher’s view of Common Core. Appears to be fair and balanced.


  48. TimG says:

    It seems to me that Catholic schools in the US are going to go the way of parochial schools in Canada….now it is just adopting CC but what will be next?

    TORONTO, ON ( The Interim) – You knew it would happen, I knew it would happen, we all knew it would happen. In a sordid and cynical attempt to deflect from various scandals and mismanagement, the Liberal government of Ontario has told the Roman Catholic school system that it has to do what it’s told, not be Catholic, and embrace the lie that gay kids are perennial victims of bullying. Be warned in the rest of Canada and be warned in the United States and Western Europe, this will likely happen to you as well.


  49. TimG says:

    Or this….
    On Wednesday, Ontario’s Minister of Education rocked Ontario taxpayers, sending a shockwave across Canada, and even beyond our borders, with an announcement that can only be described as “totalitarian”.

    Laurel Broten, Minister of Education told reporters that under its new anti-bullying law, Bill 13, The Accepting Schools Act, Catholic schools would no longer be permitted to teach that abortion is wrong!

    A transcript of the remarks from Premier McGuinty’s office to LifeSiteNews quoted Minister Broten:

    “We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” she said.

    “I don’t think that there is a contrast or a conflict between choosing a Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose,” she added.

    Asked for clarification she said again: “Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students. That includes of LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.”


    My pt is tangential to what the Chicken is saying…while the examples I provided above were explicit in your face moves targeting Catholic schools , it should concern everyone that a massive, govt subsidized and “you get your money only if you comply” approach is being pushed on America under the guise of helping the kids. What is the real agenda here?

  50. mamajen says:

    Catholic schools may not be directly required to adhere to Common Core, but I wonder if there are any strings attached to diocesan money that comes from the government? One Catholic school near here refuses diocesan money so they can operate independently.

  51. Gratias says:

    Thank you Father Z for posting this. It is amazing that Barack Hussein Obama could get something like this under our collective radar. We should be very afraid.

    Thanks to the insightful Masked Chicken.

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Richard Feynman.

    True also for the politicization of the natural sciences and Global Warming.

  52. Jerry says:

    I wander what grade Ma and Pa would get under CC?

  53. jflare says:

    Someone might ultimately argue that because I’m not married and haven’t got kids, I shouldn’t be terribly worried about this. Yet..I am. I’m not a parent, but I AM a pizza store manager. My employees need to be able to do basic math, if only to handle making change correctly.

    I got a jolt about a year ago when one of “my kids” (a now-19-year-old) told me that he had mostly graduated from high school, but merely needed to work on this project thing he had to finish. I didn’t ask too much about it, but I came to understand that the school he attended didn’t test students with any standards, necessarily, but required the students to accomplish some kind of project.

    Thankfully, I haven’t had to worry too much about him, he seems to do OK, but I wonder a little. I wonder what some of “my kids” would do if the calculators, cell-phones, and other widgets broke.

    The lady in this video seemed to me to be unable to answer a simple question for my purposes. If a kid comes up with eleven, the teacher simply needs to have the student gather together four groups of three objects each, then count up the items. I don’t understand how that could be at all complex.

    ..’Course it does require that one be able to count past 10….
    ..or 5, for that matter.
    They DO still teach THAT. ..Right????

  54. VexillaRegis says:

    In seventh grade we had a biology teacher who had a very special way of correcting tests. He tought maths too.

    Right answer = 1 point

    No answer = 0 points

    Wrong answer = – 1 point !!!

    When asked about why he gaves minus points, he just said it was “according to the higher mathematics”. End of discussion!

  55. Phil_NL says:


    With true/false questions, that’s a quite standard way of grading. With the one difference that usually 2 points are given for a good answer, 1 for ‘no opinion’, and zero for the wrong alternative. Now if you then substract an amount of points equal to the number of questions at the end (cause someone who answers ‘no opinion’ everywhere knows nothing) you end up, mathematically speaking, with the exact same thing as you describe.

    Difference is of course that many students do not realise this; if you substract points for wrong answers, the teacher gets complaints by the dozen, if you do what’s described above, you don’t….

  56. Supertradmum says:

    When is there going to be a real revolution against this government? In England, there are no independent Catholic schools and kids come out brainwashed by the national curriculum, which does NOT teach a child how to think like a Catholic.

    This is another reason why Catholics should quickly support NAPCIS schools, which I have written about on this blog before. These can be found at the website. These are truly independent schools. For years, I have tried to tell parents that when government money comes in, freedom of conscience goes out.

    Home school, now. It is the only way to protect your children, if you are not near or cannot afford NAPCIS schools. No excuses. One does not need two cars, holidays, mega-technology in the house, or lots of things. Education FORMS your children’s’ souls and if parents do not do it, the State will.

  57. TimG says:

    Home school, now.
    We came to that conclusion 6 years ago. Our friends were telling us “save your money and send your kids to public school….no faith (public) is better than the wrong faith (parochial)!”

    With the clear agenda in the public realm (even at that time) from some of the teachers and PP invading with their social / sexual deviancy curriculum, home schooling was the only answer for us. Common Core in my opinion is just the latest attempt by the govt to control our children. Really – how do you change the culture? By trying to convince the adults or subverting the next generation? Father against son, daughter against mother….chilling how that was in the readings just the other day.

    Home schooling is not easy (on many fronts), but I would encourage everyone to take a very serious look at it when considering your childrens education. When we face the Final Judgement I hope we all can say we did everything we could to guard and teach the holy souls that were entrusted to us.

  58. The Masked Chicken says:

    “…Why did I bother spending so much time editting my own post? The Chicken has arrived.”

    Really, it was just this post, honest…

    I was reading Slashdot a few weeks ago and someone made a very telling remark: the distinction between Republicans and Democrats is no longer important. They are both puppets to a larger puppet-master, a nameless, formless hidden party which one might call the Big Business Party. Congress tried to rein in the NSA and the vote was lost 205 to 217 and of those 217, 70% received monies from an industry with ties to the NSA.

    I have hated Microsoft for years. Gates’s wife is a quisling Catholic who, through her philanthropic organization, is a closet supporter of abortion rights (whether she knows it or not) and forced sterilization through vaccinations. Bill Gates is so opposed to subsidiarity that it stinks. The Common Core Curriculum (he is one of its biggest supporter) is the exact opposite of local control. I can’t stand up to Gates in terms of money, but I will debate him any time, anywhere, on his inability to conceive that he might just be wrong in his thinking.

    There are many reasons to oppose the Common Core Initiative. Gretchen’s post, above, links to a commentary on the Common Core English curriculum and the writer and I have come to pretty much the same conclusions. Given this, I can’t think that real educators took part in this. We know better. This is so damn underhanded it is pathetic. As I said in my long post, above, this just gets my blood boiling. Who the hell do these people think they are?

    Sorry for losing my temper, but we people in higher education will get stuck cleaning up the mess the Common Core will create and I don’t think it is worth it, since we have already warned them. There needs to be an uprising, but I fear it is already too late. We are discovering the flaws in the Constitution the hard way. Education is not a Constitutional right except by the interpretation of the delusional. States, technically, don’t even have the right to educate, except, insofar as the parents (educators by Divine and Natural rights) cede it to them. I have no problem with parents standing up to the state and federal education initiatives. Even Dewey, that liberal, wanted there to be multiple education initiatives. I fear, however, that parental control over education will soon be crushed. In some ways, I am coming to think that Fahrenheit 451 might not be such a bad idea. To the Land of the Book People, we salute you!

    The Chicken

    P. S. Sorry for my long posts on this topic. I have to deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis. It was either post a comment last night or watch tv. I know it was a pain for you, but anything that gets me away from the, “endless spinning light,” is a good thing.

  59. Supertradmum says:

    TimG , I have told this story on line before. Bear with me. I had a hard birth with my son. He stopped breathing five times in the womb. I know he is a miracle baby. The next morning, after a late night birth. I was holding this tiny baby in a ward of an old Victorian hospital in Cuckfield, Sussex. It was noisy on the ward, as one did not have private rooms in those days, only curtains separating beds. Daddy was not there as spouses only had two times a day they could visit.

    All of the sudden, my baby and I were enveloped in complete silence. I recognized a God moment. I heard as clearly as any human voice, the Voice of God. He said, “When you die, I shall ask you one thing. Did you pass on your Faith to your son?” I said yes, ok, of course, so be it. And the silence ended and all the noises of the beautiful spring day came back. I did not know then that a few years later, it would be my own, personal responsibility without the help of a spouse to do this, although Daddy did help me in the beginning.

    I began home schooling in 1991 and ended in 2006, when son went to TAC and I was a single mom working as well as home schooling. This is the primary duty of every Catholic parent-to pass on the real Faith of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. I may fear my personal particular judgement for other sins, but not the sin of neglect of my duty, which was a duty made so clear to me on the morning of April 27th, 1988, the day after my son’s birth.

  60. TimG says:

    Supertradmum – that is a wonderful story. Good on you for sticking with it!

    For those that don’t homeschool – I realize it’s not for everyone and my comments may have come across as overly critical. But I would caution everyone that our children are getting a lot more (of what we don’t want them to get) from society as a whole and where is the best place for satan to strike….in places that are supposed to be trusted. The church, the school and home.

    I did a quick search on the US Board of Education and quickly came up with more links than I could count. Back in 2010 the NY Times ran an article on Arne Duncan and how he is such a power broker, wielding more power than any prior Secy of Ed. Fast forward 3 years to today and ask, are your children really better off / getting a better education than they did in 2010? How long does Arne and Co get a free pass before folks start realizing what is really going on?

  61. StWinefride says:

    Supertradmum, that’s a beautiful story! My son was born 13 years ago today at 4.45 in the morning facing East – through the window I could see the sun rising and it was a beautiful dawn. I would love him to become a Priest and often think back to his birth.

    Your son was born on April 26th! That’s the anniversary of my baptism – Our Lady of Good Counsel. I have Mary Kay Clark’s Catholic Home Schooling book which features the icon of Our Lady of Good Counsel (in Genazzano, Italy) on the cover – I know I should find a way to home school but it’s complicated right now as I don’t have the support of the father on this issue.

    Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy pray for all future Priests!

  62. Bob B. says:

    Chicken – You’re right that “higher education” will have to clean up the mess. My earlier post had to do with high school, so those students are coming your way. I complained once that there was no depth of knowledge, that the students would not be able to compete against other schools and that they will have to retake all the courses again (especially given the “suggested” grading scale!). I was told that they had spent a lot of money on the program and they were not going to stop, regardless of the consequences – I no longer teach there.

  63. Supertradmum says:

    StWinefride, prayers for you. Tell your husband they will be better kids and mind him better and be more obedient…God bless you.

  64. Palladio says:

    Is there anything worse than an Education School? Yes, listening to one of its products attempt to teach teachers. How bad is Ed School? Read the papers lately? Scathing reviews of their historically abject standards. Close Ed Schools down. That would be a boon to students and teachers alike.

  65. TimG says:

    I am almost as passionate about this subject as the Chicken. I feel our ability to homeschool, which is part of the core of being a parent and being the one making decisions for our children, hangs by a delicate thread. As I believe Fr Z (and certainly other sites) have mentioned, the Obama administration declined to offer asylum to the family from Germany who is being persecuted for homeschooling.


    When you stack the facts of what the Obama administration is about, it becomes overwhelming.
    Try substituting “people will never believe that we would corrupt their children…..everyone loves children” for the following;

    All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.


    To get back to the original topic about Common Core….I found this opinion article from a professor at Stanford;

    Hidden in Common Core is the real objective – presenting the minimal amount of material that high-school graduates need to be able to enter the work force in an entry-level job, or to enroll in a community college with a reasonable expectation of avoiding a remedial math course.


  66. StWinefride says:

    Thank you Supertradmum. Prayers for you too, I read your blog and was in Walsingham a couple of weeks ago, so prayed for you there especially!

    Palladio, yes, ed schools should be closed down!

  67. Supertradmum says:

    StWinefride , how wonderful the Lady of Good Counsel connection, and Walsingham. I am still praying for the adoration house I want to set up there. Thanks for the prayers.

    Palladio, I hate to say this, but us snobby intellectuals of the late sixties and early seventies use to make fun of those in Ed Colleges, stating those were not real degrees given out. We studied the subject, not the ridic methodology, which it sounds like poor Fr. Z. had to endure. We for classical education, truth and beauty, called ourselves the Cavaliers, just as those who were in university for careers, we called the Roundheads. Happy days….

  68. Palladio says:

    You were not alone, my friend, supertradmum. One of my mentors, a Columbia Ph. D. from the 1950s, said the street dividing Columbia and the Teachers College was called the widest in the world. He was a gentle, learned Catholic, but with eyes wide open.

    I just learned that some ed schools grant Ph. D.s!!!! By what authority? Whose minding the minders?

  69. Michael Garner says:

    Fr. Z, It appears that this story is skewing what the lady in the video is saying. It sounds like they are just wanting children to use critical thinking. She states that they will be corrected but will focus more on how they got to the answer. I think that is great. It is misleading for the article to state that the new math curriculum is 3*4=11. I can’t stand Obama just like any other sane person, but I fail to see the “evil” that so many of the commentaters are mentioning.

  70. Palladio says:

    “critical thinking” Yes, that is the buzz word, the ed school having abandoned ‘skills’ and ‘multiple intelligences.’ But it appears different in different lights, that is, in different subjects. The silly end of this fashion is to lead the children to “critical thinking,’ ignorantly defined as if it were one and the same thing. Most children will have no more chance of succeeding by this fashion than by any other approach or method, though I hesitate to dignify the fashion with the words approach or method. I know a mathematical genius who cannot read poetry to save his life. YET. I suppose his thinking is not ‘critical’ enough, by the non-argument of the ed school. In fact, he simply needs more time to acquire the many things necessary to read poetry.

  71. shoofoolatte says:

    More hand-wringing and political posturing over meaningless twiddling. First, as for the content of Common Core, it is meaningless unless the schools will hold students accountable to it and fail who must fail. They will not because they cannot. The school can’t afford the delayed graduation, which will lead to increased class size and more faculty, and most of the parents will not support it. Second, the culture as ground no longer supports the kind of learning they want to enforce. At least when we went to school in the sixties and seventies, there was some diminishing congruence between the content and message of school and society. Now, the changes have come too quickly for the schools to keep up, and the gap between education and the real present as our kids experience it is immense.

  72. Cathy says:

    Sounds like the type of math the CBO came up with to explain how Obamacare would be paid for. The math doesn’t have to produce a correct answer, what’s important is to see how eloquently they explain their reasoning as to how it will be paid for. This New Math makes perfect political sense. We may hope that those who hold the power of the purse? which branch is that? what difference does it make? will compute correctly, however, what’s really important is their argument which proves that they are really smart!

  73. Palladio says:

    “The math doesn’t have to produce a correct answer, what’s important is to see how eloquently they explain their reasoning ” AKA, sophistry.

  74. Sonshine135 says:

    Wow! This is the ultimate example of all truth being uncertain. If you can actually begin to teach people that Math is no longer a certainty, then how can we be certain about anything. Uncertainty makes fear. Fear leads people to others who can provide safety and security. After all, you can’t depend on God or the church right? This is a horrible, evil road that we have been lead down. I feel many days like the noose is beginning to tighten around my neck and the only hope is some serious divine intervention.

  75. PA mom says:

    This is my diocese. the newspaper which came up with this article is blatantly anti -Catholic (to the point where I cancelled my subscription). They are probably mad because Catholic school enrollment is up again this year, as people continue to try to flee the state-test failing public schools all around us.
    So long as it continues to be voluntary, I don’t see the harm. It does not trouble me that there would be basic minimum standards set up for people creating ciriculum around the country. Our Catholic schools are quite good academically, and should already far exceed any of these suggestions.
    Never stop at what the school teaches anyway. Their our kids, and I spend two months of the summer coming up with additional learning for them so they will be well rounded and intelligent, not merely passing the tests. It is a pleasure to have the chance to experience their learning and especially to add to their Catholic knowledge and understanding.

  76. Palladio says:

    The danger is that the Church is surrounded by public schools, entire States of which endorse this nonsense. Catholic education has problems enough of its own, including no sense of mission, without making matters worse by aping execrable fashions. It is not really a question of ‘basic minimum standards,’ since the curricula (e. g., English) are already policed to make sure minorities and women writers are represented out of all proportion to their quality or influence (an educational company which shall remain nameless actually makes teacher certification tests for States which make this perfectly clear), i. e., the curricula are diluted in content. Dumbed down, English is then strangled to death with the approach approach. If only Johnny can show why he thinks King Lear is a comedy, he’s get a decent grade.

  77. wmeyer says:

    One of my favorite statements from a math teacher (in my daughter’s classroom, s few years ago) was that it was “not necessary to learn to take a square root, as we have calculators for that.”

    Uh huh. And when no one learns any longer how to perform mathematical operations by hand, then who will be left to design the much more complex hardware that makes it so simple to be lazy?

  78. Pingback: Yes it’s true, ObamaMath is infecting Catholic schools too | He's pretty fly for a Jersey guy

  79. everett says:

    One of the problems here is that what many parents want from their Catholic Schools is just a safer, nicer version of a public school, not an actual Catholic school. And many Catholic schools have just acquiesced, and now they just try to be better versions of public schools, and have sacrificed their identity in the process.

    I’ve worked at Catholic schools where parents were upset that the teachers were making the courses rigorous, and that they were teaching Catholic morality, and having plans set up for the teaching of virtue, when all these parents wanted was a safe school to send their kids to.

  80. Palladio says:

    Interesting. It also reflects on the competence and intelligence of the teacher.

    There is a Latin series which purports to teach students the language and reading with very rudimentary grammar and simplified stories, not Rome authors, which interrelate to form a grand narrative of Roman culture. Average students can read the stories, in some sense read. But they cannot write any form, and they cannot read Roman authors after two or three years using the series. Now a brilliant student can, of course, do both, but that is not the problem. The problem is reaching all students able to do such work. This series, of marginal value at best for most students, has a huge market share, and by hook or by crook. There are series using the same approach with a substantial market share, too, and they are even worse in quality.

    The brightest people used to go into teaching and the professoriate. Where such lamentable materials are put into the hands of so many unsuspecting students, and the teachers are not smart enough to notice the problem, these hard times are not going away soon.

  81. Kathleen10 says:

    I often work in public schools. It’s a world of top-down management. Educational theories fall like rain upon the fields, and every few years the theories change, often in direct opposition to the former theories. It’s a pendulum movement, back and forth, and so on. When I was finishing a degree in the 90’s, literacy was way into denying phonics for reading, and into “whole language”. No “letter people” as in Mr. B sounds like buh, buh” and so on. This is how most of us learned to connect letters with sounds and print, but in the 90’s, phonics were blamed for segments of low achievement in reading, so out it went! I sat in a Teaching of Reading class and heard lecture after lecture from the professor who hated phonics, and took occasional polls as in “Is there anyone here who STILL thinks phonics is a good method?”. My hand would go up, virtually alone. I knew it worked for me, a voracious reader as a child, and worked for my son.
    Now, phonics are back in, and naturally, like all good “theories” in vogue at the moment, all are nicely on board. You have to be! You don’t want to be a dissenter when it comes to whatever theory or movement is in vogue at the moment. Teachers now just have to make the best of whatever theory is happening, such as being an “engaging” teacher, meaning, your kids don’t learn much but they laugh alot in your class. Entertain them! I am not a teacher, but I pity the teachers, especially those who teach math or language arts. They get the flogging. I’ve been in alot of schools. Success (good scores on the CMT’s) are directly correlated in reality, to the cultural background of your students. There are many, many people who make gobs of money denying this.

  82. RobW says:

    I wonder how the govt. would feel if we used this math to do our taxes?

  83. Tom in NY says:

    @palladio – I think I know which two Latin series raise your concerns. If permitted, you can contact me through a wordpress site for a longer discussion.
    @Kathleen 10 – I learned about second language instruction through a year including K and 1st grade. That district used a method which “decoded” English over two years with repetition of the alphabet, “message” (Copernicus) boards, reading in class, at home, listening to and analyzing stories, writing, and repeating groups of letters. It was mostly phonics with addition of “whole word” from time to time. It was effective for the large majority of students.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  84. shoofoolatte says:

    Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the classroom without walls:

    “Erasmus was the first to act on the awareness that part of the new revolution was going to be felt in the classroom. He decided to direct the revolution from the classroom. I think the same situation confronts us. We are already experiencing the discomfort and challenge of classrooms without walls … We can decide either to move into the new wall-less classroom in order to act upon our total environment or to look on it as the last dike holding back the media flood. Let us consider that the flow of information into the student mind (and our own as well) which was once oral, and then printed, could easily be controlled in the classroom. Today only a tiny trickle of the information flow into the student mind can be accounted for in the classroom. For every fact or attitude which the teacher can initiate or direct, the visual and auditory environment today provides many thousands.” – (1956). Educational Leadership for a Free World: Mass Media of Communication. Teachers College Record. 57(6). P. 401.

    “The telephone: speech without walls.
    The phonograph: music hall without walls.
    The photograph: museum without walls.
    The electric light: space without walls.
    The movie, radio, and TV: classroom without walls”.
    Understanding Media, 1964

  85. Bob B. says:

    Kathleen10 – you’re right. The more you stay in this profession, the more it returns from whence it came. I am concerned about CC though. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a risk of too many students not knowing anything but a sampling of what they should.

  86. amenamen says:

    There is nothing new under the sun. Abbott and Costello showed how
    7 x 13 = 28

  87. mrshopey says:

    Re the video of explaining common core, I don’t find anything obje objectionable to it other than, I would hope they were doing that anyway. The fact that they want the kids to know why they got an answer wrong and the process is part of teaching and learning. My question would be have they just been having the kids memorize fact tables without explaining it?
    I think they will find the common core bench marks are way below what a Catholic School has in place or their bench marks.
    The lady didn’t seem to explain this very well as if Tommy thinks 4*3=11, he may NOT be able to explain why he got it wrong to begin with. That is where the teaching comes in – explaining how and why 4*3=12. It may not be he fails to understand multiplication but just is having an off day and do more memorizing, etc.
    If they are saying a child need not memorize these facts anymore, then u can hang up higher math for them as it is painful, if not impossible, for them to proceed on.
    If they are requiring schools to switch to junk curriculum, then I would have a problem. I am familiar w some of the methods Fr pointed out and they should be used, in my opinion, for the exception, those struggling.

  88. Ben Kenobi says:

    Saw this coming longgggg ago. I figured Obama would attempt to trash the school curriculum before he headed out the door. I got permission to deviate from the ‘expected curriculum’, and so I run my own. So long as my students continue to perform well on standardized testing – I’m allowed to teach pretty much whatever I want. It’s great.

    If we want to spend an entire class talking about the Roman Empire, then we can do just that. Two, even if there is sufficient interest. (I teach history).

    What I have noticed is that students do not read well, and do not write well. They struggle with reading passages with consistant diction and they are slow. So we practice till they get it right and they feel confident in reading the passages.

    If I had my way and I didn’t have any standardized testing – I’d spend half my class on getting the students to where they should be on their reading levels. As is – we spend lots of time on geography, on vocabulary – understanding the basics that they should have been taught before but were not taught properly. I’m lucky. I have a wonderful district.

    The other thing I do is I check my methods against what was used in 1910 – I have an old manual that I read through and they offer insights into how to engage students in a lecture format, class control, etc. I do make a few allowances – but if it’s not something that they would have used in 1910, I try to stay away from it. .That means blackboard and chalk.

    In any case, I’m thankfully insulated from these atrocious changes. I pity the schools and teachers that have to deal with teaching these things.

  89. Ben Kenobi says:

    “My question would be have they just been having the kids memorize fact tables without explaining it?”

    Short answer – because it works.

    Long answer – If you want to learn something, repetition is a good way to fix it. You don’t want students having to burn effort trying to think it through when they just automatically know the answer. It’s faster. Think of it like playing the piano and muscle memory. You don’t think – you just do.

    Initially, it takes more time – but in the long run – it’s far, far faster.

  90. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Teachers now just have to make the best of whatever theory is happening, such as being an “engaging” teacher, meaning, your kids don’t learn much but they laugh alot in your class. Entertain them! I am not a teacher, but I pity the teachers, especially those who teach math or language arts. They get the flogging”

    Simple. Proof of the pudding is in the eating. If school dollars are tied to performance and your classes do well – you have leverage. The school really doesn’t care, so long as the little darlin’s do well on their test at the end of the year. Whatever works, keep doing it. Pay lip service to the ‘fad of the day’, but continue to use the methods that you know work in the classroom.

  91. Palladio says:

    “The fact that they want the kids to know why they got an answer wrong and the process is part of teaching and learning.” That sounds right, but it is not, practically speaking. What it signifies is one possible way of teaching (whether the student will learn from it is another question altogether). If I use that way, however, for students who struggle, who are so much unlike those students who seem to be able to see all sides to a problem at the same time, what I have done is not shown how the right answer or answers is achieved, but something else entirely, how the wrong answer was achieved. But time is of the essence in teaching, economical choices are always best. It is not a group therapy or meditation session. The choice for the real teacher is between demonstrating why a wrong answer is wrong and why a right answer is right, in other words: why would I use the former, when it still leaves wide open the necessity of dong the latter? Thus, practically speaking, I have to use two different ways to get one and the same answer. I have at least doubled the amount of teaching, leaving the best students behind, the worst students behind (those too sick or lazy to pay attention), with uncertain results for the pluggers and troopers and a drag on time. That drag on time stems from the fact that that last bunch needs individual attention, since, after all, the right answer is not the issue, since the right answer would have been unobjectionable and we would have moved on, dwelling with the wrong answer is, and there are countless wrong answers! Needless to say, the approach is time wasting for most of the group, dubious for the children for whom it is intended, and it means most of the students have not learned how to get the right answer. Do what teachers have always done: show a few ways to get the right answer, drill, and move on. Allow students some time to decide for themselves which of the ways work best for them–they use this freedom poorly, I can assure you, but it is worth a try and builds confidence as a side benefit: they feel, rightly, they are being given every opportunity to shine.

  92. jflare says:

    Palladio – I already bought Latin learning materials; once I get through Spanish (on Rosetta Stone), I’ll be making more thorough use of those Latin materials. If you’ve come across a course that you believe deficient, I’d appreciate you proclaiming what the course’s name is, who the author is, and who publishes it. ..And why you don’t like it in particular. As a fellow consumer and student, I have a reasonable need to know what objections may be made about how I’m spending my education dollars.

    To those who’ve defended the lady in the video:
    There are times when a question requires a more complex answer than expected because the subject matter isn’t as simple as a questioner might’ve thought.
    This is not one of those times.
    Someone asked whether a child who’d provided an incorrect answer would be corrected. The lady gave a several-seconds spiel in reply when a simple “Yes, students will be shown why they erred” would’ve been quite adequate and helpful.
    That she took several moments of effective babble to answer the question suggests to me that she or her subject–quite possibly both–are a giant, smelly, load of bull.

  93. mrshopey says:

    Ben, I agree that memorization of mulitiplication table is the best. I do not see how they will make it in any higher math otherwise. But, when being introduced to this, it should have been explained why we multiply and the benefits of it – easier to add larger numbers.
    I also agree than younger kids need to memorize about their faith like the B.C. As they mature, more teaching – expounding on the subject should be happening.
    If the catholic schools are setting their standards as low as the public schools, not just making sure they are covering what is required, then they might as well hang up catholic schools as it would not be worth time or money spent.

  94. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The fact that they want the kids to know why they got an answer wrong and the process is part of teaching and learning.”

    Other than simply believing that 3 x 4 = 12, can you explain why 3 x 4 != 11? The != means, “not equal,” in C ++ (since I don’t have the not-equal symbol on my keyboard). You can argue that 3 x 4 is the same as adding 3 four times, but it may simply be a coincidence that they give the same answer. At best, this is an inductive argument, not a proof. To really prove why 3 x 4 != 11 requires an understanding of mathematical logic or ring theory well beyond the ability of anyone in the fourth grade except a prodigy.

    The point is that it is a meaningless exercise at this grade level to even ask the question. Young kids need rote, discipline, and order in the early stages of concept formation. They do not need to question the underlying structure before they even grasp the concept. This is putting the cart before the horse. Again, this could not have been thought up by an actual teacher or a developmental neuro-scientist. Kids do not develop logical mechanisms in full bloom. This approach requires it. It is incompetence, writ large. Find me any literature that puts logical processing of children at the level needed to answer the teacher’s question and then we can have a real discussion, but as it stands, these people are simply making unscientific noise.

    The Chicken

  95. unless you went through new math back when they tried this experimentation once before you have no idea how worthless it is.
    You should have been around when they tried new ways of teaching kids how to spell.
    My question is why is the federal government involved in education at all? It used to be on the local level. We could do without the Dept of Indoctrination[Education] PERIOD
    Have you heard about the history books of late?

  96. Post Script: 2+2=4 because it DOES

  97. LisaP. says:

    For those concerned, a couple additional things to watch out for:

    Common Core is applied to social studies, also. The danger here is obvious, since this covers culture, society, history, and religion (believe systems), as well as simple social mores.

    Many conservatives (Republicans, generally) supported Common Core. In this way, it is much like the Patriot Act or religious education, people support top down models because they think they can save everyone once they are at the top with this handy tool — then the top becomes occupied by the opposition, which uses that tool mercilessly.

    The intellectual tradition of the Church is well suited to arguing against Common Core with its arguments on subsidiarity. The only way to improve public (or private) schools is by returning the control back to the local community; CC instead takes a system that has highly federalized school and makes it even more federalized and less locally accountable. Wish the bishops would come out and lobby for the elimination of the Department of Education (or support a candidate who does). This centralizing and conforming trend needs to be dialed way back. Interesting how “diversity” stopped being a catchword a long time ago. . . .

  98. TimG says:

    If I may speculate….human nature is to assume the best in people’s intentions. (I don’t, but then again I am very jaded about anything government related.) So on the surface, the woman in the video and “the press” surrounding Common Core on the surface all sounds good. Again, everyone wants to help kids. But I think if you look below the surface (either as I do….that anything being run by the govt is probably not a good thing, or as the clearly articulated thoughts of others on this blog), folks should be very concerned about this.

  99. OrthodoxChick says:

    Social Studies really doesn’t need a hand from the Common Core curriculum. It’s being written already. My first freak-out with it was when my oldest child came home with his grade 6 public school book for homework. I peeked over his shoulder to see what he was working on. To my horror, I discovered that there were these weird, new letters where B.C. and A.D. belonged. When I asked the teacher why history was suddenly changed (and doesn’t changing it sort of defy the whole concept of “history” to begin with), she told me that it happened 10 years prior. So this was maybe 13-14 years ago or so now. Now, our kids are supposed to measure time in history as “The Common Era” and “Before the Common Era”. How stupid is that? So we still mark the time before Christ’s birth and after as the same break/change in time and history that we have always considered it to be, we just renamed it to erase Christ’s name from the records. So his birth is still the pivot-point in history, but we can’t say so.

    I forbid my kids to use B.C.E. and whatever the abbreviation is for the other stupid thing. I’ve told my kids’ teachers that they are to use A.D. and B.C. and if they are ever marked points off for that, no one at the school will ever hear the end of me.

  100. mrshopey says:

    3*4=12 not just because it is a math fact but in addition
    Now, I agree that it will be interesting to see how the kids, if they do, explain any other answer.
    My 9 yo will simply say, sorry I forgot – messed up.
    He still has to get 90% correct in my class before moving on. That is self motivating btw.
    It will be interesting to see if some students answer incorrectly because they only have 10 fingers, etc lol!
    That is what I was understanding her to say. But, they still need to have it memorized in addition to knowing how they got it.
    In higher math, algebra, partial credit is given to those who might make a simple addition, multiplication error. ESP if there are several steps to the problem.
    Now when you get into college, there is no guarantee the professor will be that generous! By then, those mistakes should not exist.
    When I was in high school, I would get 0 in English if I made a cardinal error in a paper.
    I think the public schools have drifted far from this. Heck, I know they have!

  101. Palladio says:

    hi, jflare, I don’t advise self-teaching in Latin, unless you have already mastered, say, Greek. As for your query, I can say which texts work great in the classroom: Wheelock’s for most students, Learn to Read Latin for the most serious and accomplished students.


  102. The Masked Chicken says:

    “3*4=12 not just because it is a math fact but in addition

    This is not a proof. This is not an explanation. This is a lucky accident. The system of counting numbers just happen to have this property for addition and multiplication. It does NOT hold for division and subtraction (try 12 / 7) or many other mathematical systems (such as some matrices). I will say it, again, this is not an explanation. The natural number system forms a ring under multiplication and addition, but not a field.


    Unless you know about commutative ring theory or Dedekind cuts, you are not really going to be able to explain why a x b gives the same answer as a + a + a… added b times. It is stupid to ask a 9 year old why he got the answer he did unless it is simply to get him to admit that he made a mistake.

    “In higher math, algebra, partial credit is given to those who might make a simple addition, multiplication error. ESP if there are several steps to the problem.
    Now when you get into college, there is no guarantee the professor will be that generous! By then, those mistakes should not exist.”

    So, people in college are perfect? I had a professor, once, who was a living legend of terror because he stopped giving credit for a problem at your first mistake, no matter how long or correct the proof was. I think it was abuse. In the real world, almost everything is peer-reviewed before being released, especially in mission critical situations (although, not so much in mass market computer code). I once worked a long problem on an exam by a correct method and made a sign error in the first step and the guy gave me no credit, even though, in physical terms the solution was part of a symmetry group so certain things you might like to know, were independent of direction. One could argue that his overly pedantic grading was an example of insisting on an overly rigid framing of the problem. I went on to become an expert in this area, so I am in a position to have an informed opinion.

    People make mistakes. Do we have to make life more complicated than that? Must we learn to rationalize at such an early age?

    The Chicken

  103. The Masked Chicken says:

    I apologize to Mrs. Hopey for being so critical in my comment, above. I seem to be grumpy, today. Please, do not be too angry. I meant nothing personal. This topic seems to have gotten my dander up.

    The Chicken

  104. jflare says:

    “hi, jflare, I don’t advise self-teaching in Latin, unless you have already mastered, say, Greek.”

    Why not?
    I lost most interest in learning any other language during high school and college; I never saw a particular need for a language I’d never use.
    I decided to learn Spanish and Latin because someone finally gave me good reasons for why the knowledge might be useful.
    I more or less consider that I’ll most easily learn another language by learning some useful vocabulary and how the grammatical structure works, but I’m willing to consider critique that others might offer.
    I inquired about the name of the course you don’t like because I’d like to review the web site for whomever offers it and discern whether it’ll help or not. I’ve been disgusted by the amount of competent classical or ecclesial Latin–or classical Greek–that I CAN’T find.
    Considering the amount of material available from say, Memoria Press, in the vein of a classical education, I thought it logical that they’d offer both Latin AND Greek language courses. To my surprise, I could only find the Latina Christiana and related sorts of materials. Maybe they decided to focus on Latin because of the traditional Mass?
    I don’t know, but that’s my best guess.

  105. shoofoolatte says:

    I think progress will be made when people realise that education is not about information but about the senses.

  106. Tom in NY says:

    @jflare: Wheelock, with reader and exercise books, is the best available for adults in “mass market” bookstores. Teach Yourself: Get Started In Latin has an interesting angle. It has CDs as well as a workbook, and speaks in the “classical” pronunciation, of hard C and V-sound like W. Its principal characters are monks. Methinks it is designed for government-supported Catholic schools in the UK. Like the well-known school texts, Ecce Romani and Cambridge Latin, it introduces noun cases very slowly. By contrast, Wheelock and another popular textbook introduces verb forms and noun cases very quickly.
    I’ve not seen Rosetta for Latin or German; I don’t know how it introduces noun cases, the most difficult issue for most youth studying Latin. Verb endings in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, descend very obviously from Latin, and many students study those languages.
    Adults and teens don’t need to “decode” Latin like the young. They do need to understand
    a) Latin runs on endings and usually puts the verb near the end.
    b) You don’t speak Latin at home. Read it out loud until you find an oral source (a podcast)
    c) do the exercises in the book, both Latin to English, and the English -to-Latin. The latter makes your Latin big and strong. If you study by yourself, it’s the best (and hardest) path to mastery.
    d) your teacher is your personal trainer. He makes sure you do your exercises, and would speed your path to mastery.
    e) You’ll learn Latin how you learned your first language – hear it, repeat it, write it and speak it. Then it will stick in your head.
    Ad astra per aspera. Deus te adjuvet.

  107. LisaP. says:


    That’s so funny, we use A.D./B.C also.

    Yes, history etc. is already well corrupted — picked up a used high school American History textbook to take bits from and found tons of wild stuff. Did you know that the Boston Massacre wasn’t really a massacre, that this was a word used (by Sam Adams, I believe) to propagandize for his side of the conflict? That no one even knows if the first shot was fired by a British soldier (even though the British were the ones with, um, rifles) but even if it was, it was probably in the haze of confusion since the British were being pelted with snowballs by the mob?

    One problem with CC is that Republicans thought they could fix this by creating CC, forcing every school in the nation to use it, then writing into CC the POV they liked (Patriots good, British bad); but, of course, the Republicans don’t get to write the content, so now every kid in America will have to learn the reverse. You can’t have pockets that escape this garbage. That’s the mess of it.

  108. mrshopey says:

    I took no offense at what you said, masked chicken.
    I think you are more familiar w what they are promoting than I am.

    As far as what I meant by perfecting basics by high school/college; I didn’t mean mistakes wouldn’t happen. They should just know the answer to 3*4 so well that they most likely won’t make it or not often.
    Judging by our local colleges and the addition of more remedial classes which are covered under financial aid, things are not getting better but worse.
    I have a hard time comparing, in general, our scores with Japan and China for the simple reason is that they weed out the low performers unlike us. If I were to compare scores it would be our top w their general. We still may not be doing well in that regards too.

  109. Palladio says:

    Hi, jflare. To answer your question, because most people cannot do it. You may not be most people, with utmost respect, so have at it. If you are teaching yourself, Wheelock’s is the way to go. Most of the big market books are a waste of time, for students of any age, high school through college. I don’t want to single out by name the series I had in mind, but for instance I would not recommend the titles mentioned by Tom in NY. I don’t know anything about Memoria Press, but I like the name.

    I would start with classical Latin before (so-called) ecclesiastical Latin, not least because the Latin Fathers read classical Latin authors: St. Augustine Cicero. So did any number of later Catholic greats in the West, such as Aelfred of Rivaulx (Cicero, again). But if you have a Monastic Diurnal to pray the Divine Office and a Roman Missal for the TLM, you’ll be picking up a lot by osmosis from Sacred Tradition.

    Bonam Fortunam and
    God bless!

  110. jflare says:

    ” To really prove why 3 x 4 != 11 requires an understanding of mathematical logic or ring theory well beyond the ability of anyone in the fourth grade except a prodigy.”

    I’d say this point is very well taken. I’ve received instruction in mathematics up through Differential Equations, but have never heard of ring theory. Sounds mildly interesting, but I’ve no idea what it’s about. Even so, I’m thoroughly capable of accomplishing most essential tasks with the simple knowledge that if you place 3 groups of 4 objects each all together, you wind up with 12 objects, not 11. That seems to me quite enough proof for the vast majority of people.

    “Adults and teens don’t need to “decode” Latin like the young. They do need to understand…”

    I have idea what you mean by “decoding” something.
    I think for the most part, I need know both what the word (noun) for an object, person, place, or idea is, plus the word (verb) that describes what I need to do with it and when.

    That strikes me as being primarily a matter of vocabulary and grammar. Too often, especially with “modern” instruction in schools, they focus too heavily on culture that nobody in the class truly cares about.

    I’m still curious to know what course it was that palladio didn’t like.

  111. We tried homeschooling but with baby #5 being only 4 months old and other external factors that complicated life over a year ago, Our children are starting at the local Catholic School which we were impressed with compared to our other options.

    Anyway I just wanted to share the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas Response to parents as to why they adopted common core etc.


    tldr; A standard does not a curriculum make

  112. Pingback: ObamaMath: “Common Core” curriculum to infect Catholic Schools? | Grumpy Opinions

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