Why is Math Taught Differently Now?

What is “new math” or Common Core math? One example is this “new math” check floating around the internet. Do you know how much is it written for?


According to an article by Hemant Mehta, the check writer (Doug Herrmann) didn’t actually understand what he was talking about so it’s for two different amounts. In the box where you write the amount, the ten-frame is wrong—it’s written as an non-existent eight-frame. However, if some logic is applied, the amount is $8.43. The line where you write out the amount in nice cursive? It’s written with a correct ten-frame box—$10.43. By the way, Mehta assumes the system of 0’s/circles and X’s is $0.43. He’s not really sure since the system appears to be Herrmann’s own creation. I assume it’s based off separate method for illustrating/explaining math.

Don’t understand ten-frames? I highly recommend reading Mehta’s article, The Dad Who Wrote a Check Using “Common Core” Math Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About. Mehta explains what a ten-frame is, as well as how to use it. He also reinforces that Common Core is a set of standards, not a curriculum .Article Bonus: Mehta compares new math to Food Network’s Chopped.

So, why is math taught differently now? You need your brain to think, not to compute. That’s what the device(s) you carry around all day are for! “New math” or “common core math” teaches students multiple methods and the reasoning behind it before getting to shortcuts. Plus, you use it every day to make change (if you still use cash!)

Want a more visual explanation? Dr. Raj Shah explains why there has been a shift in mathematics education.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

Dr. Raj Shah explains why math is taught differently than it was in the past and helps address parents’ misconceptions about the “new math”.

Dr. Shah is the owner and founder of Math Plus Academy (www.mathplusacademy.com) an academic enrichment program with two locations in Columbus, Ohio. Math Plus Academy offers class in math, robotics, programming and chess for kids from KG to 9th grade. Math Plus Academy is on a mission to show kids the joy of mathematics and science.

Do you attend Khan Academy?

As you may recall from his TedTalk, “Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education” Salman Khan started Khan Academy after he got the idea from frequently Skyping with his cousins and subsequently creating videos on YouTube to help them with their math homework. The video lessons caught on and now Khan Academy has its own website and app.

What is Khan Academy?
According to their website, “Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.”

What subjects does Khan Academy offer?

  • Math
  • Science
  • Economics & finance
  • Arts & humanities
  • Computing
  • Test Prep (SAT, MCAT, GMAT, IIT JEE, NCLEX-RN, CAHSEE, AP* Art History

As you can see, the subjects are focused on STEM. The “arts & humanities” sections are mostly art and some history; there is no English or writing at all. This is disappointing to an English teacher like myself, but I hope those modules are in development (or will be soon).

Who is Khan Academy for?
Everyone! Students, teachers, parents, and anyone else who wants to learn. Need to refresh a concept for a meeting? Khan Academy! Need to relearn elementary math to help your kid with homework? Khan Academy! Want to brush up on your history so you can sound knowledgeable on a date? Khan Academy! Want to study coding? Khan Academy! (Are you getting the pattern here? Good!)

Do I have to pay for Khan Academy?
No, it’s free! Forever. It’s a promise on their homepage. “For free. For everyone. Forever.”

Do I need a username/password to use Khan Academy?
Nope! You can log in to track progress, save content, etc., but it is not essential to log in to watch a video.

Are the videos hard to follow?
Some of the more advanced math may be difficult if you’re skipping around; however, in a general sense, no the videos are easy to understand and follow. There are two ways to learn in the video: visual and audio. The speaker walks the person through the topic with a drawing and audio information. Additionally, there is a transcript to follow if you want to skim through and find something specific.

Can you embed videos into your own website?
Yes! Click on a video and beneath it you’ll see a “Share” button. There is an option for embed. Paste the code into your site/blog and the result will have a heading and look like this…….

Adding fractions with like denominators: With like denominators, you’re basically just adding numerators. That’s not too bad, right? Can the resulting fraction be simplified?

Wave Interference:

TEDed: Music and math: The genius of Beethoven

TEDEd Lessons Worth Sharing

How is it that Beethoven, who is celebrated as one of the most significant composers of all time, wrote many of his most beloved songs while going deaf? The answer lies in the math behind his music. Natalya St. Clair employs the “Moonlight Sonata” to illustrate the way Beethoven was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics.

View the full lesson with questions and resources at ed.ted.com.

F for Effort

Awhile ago, I reviewed Richard Benson’s first hilarious test answer book, F in Exams.  His second book, F for Effort, utilized the same premise and just provided more funny answers that serve as excellent introductions segues into the class to educational lessons when you have some time to kill.  It too is available in paperback or Kindle versions.

F for Effort has two sections: elementary and high school.  Within the high school section the content is broken down again by subject matter: biology, chemistry, physics, math, English, history & geography, and extra credit.  The elementary section is not broken down further.  The following are some screenshots taken from the Kindle version of the book.






High School











Guest Post: How to Create an Effective and Productive Method of Math Learning

Guest Post By: Jacky Wilson

Is there a possibility to eliminate the bell curve in learning mathematics? Imagine a person at a dinner party just nonchalantly announcing, “I’m uneducated”. It’s a hypothetical situation that will never happen, of course; the embarrassment would be too great. However, it’s not uncommon for an adult to say that, “I am not good in math”. That’s mainly because we have formed a common opinion that math ability is hereditary, as if there’s a “mathematics gene” that you either gain from predecessors or you don’t.

In particular, school math teachers often are not able to make adequate allowances for the restrictions of working memory and the most important fact is that we need a tremendous amount of everyday practice to gain mastery in just every subject. Children who are weak in studying math usually have difficulty in:

  • Doing arithmetic involving mixed equations
  • Handling word related math problems
  • Remembering the essential math facts and basics

Despite the extensive support for “discovery-based” or “problem-based” math learning, research and studies have shown that the current teaching methods or tactics usually underestimate the amount of unambiguous guidance; “framework” and practice children are most required to combine new concepts in learning. Asking children to invent something on their own before they understand the fundamentals of any subject is like asking them to write a song using guitar before they know anything about its various chords.

The foundation of a good learning in math starts by building confidence, which many great teachers believe should be the first objective of a math teacher. Confidence is the main key that creates attention, which creates rich learning abilities. You may come across different teachers but I am sure you would not have met anyone that will tell you that the student can excel without being confident. But I am really puzzled to notice that I have never seen in any school that follows the same in their math program. Math is the best subject that helps to build confidence. Teachers can take steps to modify their teaching practices in math by solving problems in small steps and raise the bar of confidence in them.

Setting a good groundwork for learning math is very important. When your child is able to do the math more quickly, he/she can enjoy more time doing the extracurricular activities that he/she often missed.