I stared into my 8-year-old’s eyes. He stared back. On the table in between us rested the latest “Home Links”, a math sheet that’s part of the University of Chicago’s Everyday Mathematics curriculum. Most days our intrepid 3rd grader must complete a Home Links for homework.

“Will,” I said. “You’re supposed to show your work.”

“Nnnnnnnhhhh,” he whined.

“Well, I don’t understand how you got ‘3930’ when the problem is 3543 – 387.”

“Nnnnnnnhhhh.”

“I think you added it? Look, it’s supposed to be subtraction and you’re supposed to show your work.”

“Nnnh.” He erased 3930, looked at it a moment and wrote 3166. Close, but he was off by 10.

“You’re supposed to show your work,” I reminded him. “You’re off by 10. Okay, what’s 3 minus 7? You can’t do that, so you borrow the one…” I launched into how I knew how to subtract and drew little lines and 1’s on the page.

He got agitated. His eyes darted around the room. Then his eyes glazed over. I suddenly remembered, *They don’t borrow the 1.*

Yikes, back in 70s we borrowed the 1. And then some economists decided that’s why China now owns our American butts. Enter Everyday Mathematics, which teaches methods like “trade first”, “trade up,” and some other crap I once Googled and soon forgot.

All this means is that a generation of American children are growing up in homes where there’s no help with their math homework. And parents are having to relearn elementary school math, even if we aced it the first time around. It’s not like I’m a mathematical dummy. At work last week I checked the Log Odds Ratio (95% CI) of a regression analysis, along with the Wald-value test statistic and level of significance. See?

So what did I do? I sent a note to school asking the teacher to help. To paraphrase, the note said “please help him borrow the 1, but not really borrow the 1 because I know you don’t borrow the 1 anymore.”

And China? Watch out. My son’s coming. Once he gets past ME and aces this Everyday Mathematics stuff, he’ll be your worst economic nightmare! At least, that’s what I keep telling myself every night when another Home Links comes home.

*USA! USA!*

Ashley L says

Ha! I wrote the problem down and subtracted the way I was taught in school. I couldn’t remember for a few brief moments! But alas, I figured it out. I could offer a tutorial on my blog if interested- the work shown and all? 😉 hehe

Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says

Ashley, and you could title your post with some awesome SEO keywords so frazzled parents everywhere looking for “Everyday Mathematics” help would find you! 🙂

Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted…Everyday I Hate Mathematics

Ashley L says

I showed my hubby (he’s an engineer and all…) he said that I “borrowed the one”! Hehe. He then showed me how this new way of subtraction works. For the record, the new way is stupid! 🙂

Ashley L recently posted…Create A Spiritual Foundation

Katy says

“the new way is stupid” – Love it!

The Mommy Psychologist says

Wow…I wonder how they will be doing math by the time Gus is in school?

The Mommy Psychologist recently posted…Toddler Gets Kicked off Jet Blue for Tantrum

Katy says

They probably won’t have worksheets anymore. Little iPhones that get sent home instead!

Pam says

I love this one. I’m a high school math teacher and I still don’t know the proper way to do 3rd grade math. My daughter comes home frustrated with me because she got all of the problems that I helped her with marked wrong. I love your note to the teacher. Classic!

Katy says

First, thanks for stopping by. Second, if you’re a high school math teacher and you can’t help, then the rest of us poor saps are doomed!! 🙂

Angie says

I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to borrow the 1. I still do that, on the rare occasion I’m not using a calculator or spreadsheet.

Katy says

You brought up the calculator and I smiled! Every time he does his homework, my son argues with me why he just can’t use the calculator. And around and around we go.