Articles by David Berg, E.T.
NEW ARTICLE: There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the political and educational ramifications of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Amidst the highly charged exchanges on all sides regarding the damages/benefits of the CCSS, there has been little expressed that would provide direct and immediate support for the principal stakeholders: students and their teachers. What can be done immediately to resolve or at least ameliorate this seemingly insurmountable conflict?
The reality for some students that math can be persistently difficult and overwhelming is hardly newsworthy. As educators and parents (and for us as well when we were kids) we continue to experience the exclamations of frustrated students, “I hate math,” “Math is boring,” “I’m dumb, I’m stupid, I’ll never be good at math,” “What’s the point of this stuff – when will I ever need to use parabolas in my life?”
All math content presented in the elementary grades is intended to provide the specific development and tools necessary to support successful algebraic processing in middle school and high school. Over the previous 34 years I have worked with well over 10,000 students of all ages and processing styles, and in my experience, the most valuable math tool students acquire in the elementary grades is the development of automaticity with the multiplication and division facts.
How many times have I heard exasperated students exclaim, “I hate fractions!” Even students who feel math is easy often claim, “Yeah, that other stuff is pretty easy, but I’m really bad at fractions – oh, and decimals, too.” Fractions are challenging, and are estimated to have an 80% failure rate nationwide . . .
Students with math anxiety do not lack the intelligence or the motivation to be successful. Typically, they lack the underlying development that supports the acquisition of the basic tools to do math. For example, a significant number of students who struggle with math have a “big picture”learning style that enables them to do well with reading comprehension, the conceptual side of math, and other learning activities that create pictures in the mind.
“I’m dumb in math!” “I’m never going to use this stuff,” Math is stupid!” “I HATE MATH!” More heartfelt sentiments have probably never been expressed. Students who struggle in math, especially now during this phase of inappropriate acceleration we see in the schools, experience undue stress and anxiety on a daily basis.