Having Problems with Connected Math??by : Todd Crosner and Matt Powers
posted on : 11/12/2012
As math tutors, when bad curriculums surface, we experience an increase in business. To say that “Connected Math” and its cousin “Everyday Math” have been good for business would be a gross understatement. In fact, we should write them a “Thank you” letter and include a gift basket. But, that’s not what we’re all about.
The reality is we hadn’t even realized how dangerous these textbooks are until our own children brought them home. The main problem with these books is they assume way too much. For example, in “Bits and Pieces”, the book assumes your child can process decimal numbers, yet they never have shown you how to create a decimal number. Then, you are told to add, subtract, multiply, and divide these decimals with little or no instruction of how to do so.
In a review by critic James Milgram, he writes “the program seems to be very incomplete… it is aimed at underachieving students.” He observes that “the students should entirely construct their own knowledge.. standard algorithms are never introduced, not even for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions.”
In fact, “Connected Math” requires the use of “fraction strips”, pictured below,
which your school may or may not provide (ours didn’t). In our humble opinion, folding fraction strips is not a great way to teach fractions. There are many better ways available; like fraction boards, for instance. To illustrate our point, try folding an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper into 5, 7, or 9 equal parts. That is no easy task. Then, trying doing the math problems in the book using your folded sheet of paper. Good luck with that!
We are not alone in our opinion. In fact, many parents have nicknamed this curriculum “Disconnected Math” and have fought for its elimination. Already banned in 2 states, its commonly said, “There is no good day for Everyday Math.”
As parents, if your child is having trouble with these curriculum, we encourage you to act. First, reassure your child it’s not their fault they don’t understand the math in the book. As adults and math professionals, we sometimes even have trouble deciphering what they asking. It’s almost like a secret code.
Next, we would suggest getting them some outside tutoring, and/or teaching them on your own the standard, old-fashioned way. In fact, we’ve told our children to ignore the bizarre methods taught in the book, and instead, we teach them traditional methods of solving each problem. This will ensure they are prepared for the tough road ahead.
Sorry to say, these books can be very destructive. They may alter your child’s view of math and hurt their confidence. Many students have reported they no longer enjoy math after using these curriculum.
It’s our suspicion that any child who is succeeding while using these curriculum is receiving good advice from their parents at home, or professional tutors. Without extra help, your child will likely go through these curriculum and be entirely unprepared for middle and high school Algebra.
Lastly, if your child is struggling, write a letter to your School Board, as well as the Principal and Superintendent of your child’s school telling them how concerned you are with the quality of their mathematics education. As representatives who are supposed to act in your best interest, they will surely give you feedback and hopefully create change.