The New York Times Magazine this summer had a great piece on the way in which the effort to overhaul our nation's approach to math education may be faltering on account of a very basic mistake: we aren't training our teachers to teach "the new math."
The article made a lot of sense, but a point it didn't bring up, and which I hadn't considered, was brought up in conversation by a guy behind me at the grocery store. He was complaining to the person he was with that he can't help his son out with math anymore because he doesn't understand how his son arrives at his answers. Once he mentioned it, I recalled that many of the Republican attacks on the Common Core curriculum amount to snarky notes fathers have written on their kids' math homework, saying something along the lines of "I'm a math major and I don't get this." I thought the arguments were pretty lame, but hearing the guy sound truly troubled by the fact that his son was disregarding everything he'd taught him in favor of the new math had me re-thinking my stance.
Then, as if it sensed I was trailing from the straight and true path of liberalism, the Times today published a round-robin debate on whether parents should help their kids with homework in the first place. Most of the experts seem to think not.
So there you go. I should have turned around chided the guy for even trying.