Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Math and Korean Math

"With the Boomer Revolution came the reinvention of everything we used to take for granted," begins Gavin McInnes, noting, "The first old guard institution they decided to shut down was, 'Doing the math'" — The Death of Math.

Just this week my daughter had her first-ever test, a first-grade math placement test. (Sorry folks, I don't homeschool full-time, only after class and on weekends; I'm able to send my daughter to an excellent private school gratis.) I was surprised that the test included word problems, like, "If Minsu and Minji have 16 cookies altogether and Minsu has two more than Minji, how many do each of them have?" My daughter, after having been coached by her mother for a few days, got placed into the higher group.

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Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Congratulations to your little girl! =)

I didn't get introduced to problems like that until I was several years older than your daughter and algebra entered the Maths curriculum.

Did you wife use the expected

"16 = x + (x + 2)"

equation for that problem, or is there a new method in "Korean Math"?

5:20 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Thanks. We are proud of her. I thought she had a talent for math as a toddler, but lately she seemed to be having some trouble, not so much with the concepts but with speed. She's easily distracted, and would probably be drugged in the States.

I think in the first grade, they just have to figure it out. They don't learn algebra that young, even in Korea.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

"How to be gay"...but I thought it wasn't a choice...well HAVING same sex attractions certainly isn't a choice...but maybe BEING gay is after all. I do so try to be happy whenever I can.

One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is Girls Just Want to Have Sums, which takes a deserved broad shot at political correctness in education. I especially loved the scene in the girl's math class where the "teacher" asks the gils how numbers feel and smell, which results in the pupils looking like they've gone out of their minds.

I feel lucky to have had a mostly solid K-12 public education in AZ, but I graduated in 1988. There was some goofiness though. There was a lot of pedagogical experimentation in the late 70s and early 80s. I'm also a bit resentful that my band teacher didn't teach us to read music, but rather how to read auras. Corporal punishment (extremely rarely used because of the mere threat of it) was even permissible. Who knows what education is like now. I have observed that feeling has completely replaced thinking, and I think it's diabolical.

6:37 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

We graduated in the same year and had the same experience, except that I was in Western New York. I think we were the last to get a passable education. At least we were taught to read.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

Read, yes, lots of dead white males...Homer, Plato, Cicero, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Dante, Jefferson, Twain, Tolstoy, Emerson, etc.

When I mention this to people, as well as the math and science curriculum and ubiquitous paddle hanging on the classroom wall, they usually ask if I attended Catholic school. I respond proudly with, no AZ schools. Full disclosure: my mother did seek out living in the best possible district. We certainly weren't of the means to buy a good education.

I don't want to come of as in favor of corporal punishment, but I'm not opposed to it either. Judiciousness is important. I'll also ask what is more inhumane, the paddle on the wall or drugging kids?

7:58 AM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Joshua: I think I would have drawn sixteen cookies on the paper, to see how they could be divided among two girls so that one had two more than the other.

Mcmlxix: Girls Just Want to Have Sums is one of my favourite episodes! Poor Lisa! =P

5:07 PM  

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