## DAY OF RECKONING

A recent Facebook post showed a way to divide that the individual said “made no sense” to her.  Others weighed in with similar comments, saying they learned division differently.  They didn’t say whether they could still divide.  The complaints were leveled at Common Core, which now is to blame for everything wrong in education the way Mr. Obama is to blame for everything wrong in America.  Teachers are now getting on the bandwagon, in some instances bragging how many children are opting out of the test.  Before I tackle that problem, let me address this division problem, for there are several ways to do it.  First, if one doubles 2460 to get 4920, and divides by 10 (doubling both divisor and dividend doesn’t change the answer), one gets 492.

That is how I would do it in my head.

Here, one is breaking down 2460 into numbers easily divisible by 5; namely, 2000, 400, and 60, and adding them.  Same answer.  This would be my second choice.

What I asked was how many could divide 4 into 3586.  To me, if one cannot do that problem quickly, the way they learned division didn’t work for them, and the issue isn’t with Common Core but with how to divide.   I divide 4 into (3600-14), to get 900-3 1/2= 896 1/2

As for parents not being able to do their child’s homework, my father, a science teacher, wasn’t able to help me with my geometry homework, either. That’s not common core; it’s the fact that  over time we forget how to do things.  If one learned how to divide but no longer can do it, with brief practice, one could again do it well.  I re-learned calculus 32 years after I took it.  I wasn’t brilliant, but I had once learned the concept.  When I saw it again, and saw the instructions, my ability once again returned.

One good comment posted was “how do you divide by 7?”  I answered that in my response to the original post.  Suppose we want to divide 7 into 3817:  I break 3817 into 3500 +280 +37.  If I divide 7 into each of the three dividends, I get 500 +40 +5 remainder 2, or 545 2/7.

The issue with Common Core, just like No Child Left Behind, from the “Education President,” is that American children as a whole are not doing well in math and other subjects, lagging behind the rest of the world. The rise of charter schools, the decline of public schools, the lack of funding for the latter, while we are building prisons and cutting taxes for upper income earners and businesses are all contributing factors.  The public also demands accountability.  That is fine.  The response has been to create various forms of testing to prove competence.  After all, at some point in the educational process, somebody needs to be proven competent.  How one proves such without testing I do not know; proof of knowledge has traditionally required showing one’s ability to do something, and I call that a test.  The fact a student may be nice, easy to talk to, gets along with others, gives hugs, or helps out at home or in the community is fine, but I want more from my mechanic, doctor or pilot.  I like hearing a friendly voice at Dutch Brothers.  I also want them to make change properly and serve drinks with safe water and safe ingredients.  I want my automobile properly engineered so it doesn’t break down and the seat belts and air bags work.  I want the dam up river to be constructed so it doesn’t break, which it did a while back, and lack of attention to prior broken parts caused the one of the sluices to be left open, because the motor at the time couldn’t be trusted.

We often don’t see the results of competence first hand, so we tend to disparage tests; we do, however, see the results of lack of competence.