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RIP Multiplication Table – Hello Common Core

This week is conference week in Goopville.

This means that we get to find out how our children are doing in school.

Simultaneously, the teachers work a half day all week-long so that they are not overburdened by work. Because meeting with Goopville parents for a couple of hours each day is apparently the equivalent of going to war in Iraq we are asked to supply a variety of snacks and meal items for the teachers while we have to have our children home at 1:30 each day.

I used to look forward to conferences so I could hear about the academic progress of my children – but I have since learned better.

All commentary is veiled with politically correct terminology and I usually leave with little to no information about where my child stands.

The days of categorizing children as smart or dumb are over.

Recently Michael mentioned that he spent an hour with a special group for math.

“I am almost into multiplication in my WIN group!” he exclaimed with pride the other day.

“What’s a WIN group?” I demanded.

“We go into groups and we practice our math problems.”

“Do you leave the room to work on math?” I asked with trepidation as my blood pressure started to rise.


I threw down my magazine and got into his face. “Who’s in the group?”

He started to mention some smart children and I was thrilled.  I knew he was a genius!!

Thank god - he's the next Bill Gates and I don't have to worry about paying for college.....

Thank god – he’s the next Bill Gates and I don’t have to worry about paying for college…..

then he started to mention some idiots….

I started to sweat. Why would he be in a math group with kids that were not very bright. Was he an idiot?

I called Mr. Gaga at work while the kids worked on their homework.

I spoke in a hushed tone.  “Michael goes to a special group for math…and I can’t figure out if he is extremely bright or mildly retarded.”

“What do you mean?” Mr. Gaga asked with annoyance.

When he got home he peppered Michael with a series of questions that got us nowhere.

When we were going to bed Mr. Gaga said “Well – he’s either really smart or a moron….I will email the teacher tomorrow.”

Of course when the teacher emailed us back we STILL didn’t know the answer.

She said “All of the kids break into groups and practice their math skills – He is right where he should be :)”

“Well – “right where he should be” is not good.” I said to Mr. Gaga.

“I am sure she would tell us if he needed help.” he brushed me off.

Would she?  Everyone is so politically correct these days – would anyone tell me if my kid was an idiot??  Was I an idiot? How could I not notice that he needed extra help in math?

When I went to my parents’ for dinner I mentioned this math dilemma.

“We just don’t know if he’s an idiot or a mathematical genius.” I sighed.

“Well what are his grades in math?” my father asked incredulously.

“Oh…..well mostly check marks and smiley faces I guess…” I answered matter-of-factly.

My father almost choked on his dinner.

“You pay all those taxes to live in Goopville for smiley-faces?” he yelled.

“Hmmm, ….um….yes. The grading system is just basically a series of smiley-faces…..” I answered earnestly.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You mean to tell me this kid has never gotten a grade on anything?”


He has a point.

No wonder we don’t know if Michael is smart or not.

When I thought about it – it was quite feasible that I would not know if he was good at math or not.

How could I know?

I don’t know because it is a big fucking mystery!!!

With the new common core standards of teaching – children are little robots that must go through the standardized testing motions with little to no feedback.  All so that every child can be at the same academic level at all times.

Is the goal of the “COMMON CORE” for everyone to be common!!

Is it so that everyone can fall to the lowest common denominator!!

To add insult to injury – with the new common core standards of teaching there are new ways to teach and learn everything – especially math.

Gone are the days of the glorious math charts where you just memorized all of the multiplication tables and were set for life.

That is no longer allowed.

I'm sorry but didn't this chart work for like 3000 years??

I’m sorry but didn’t this chart work for like 3000 years??

Now math problems are solved with huge tables and strange pictures.

It is no longer enough to just get the right answer ….you need to “show your work.”

The Gaga’s have not embraced this new learning method with open arms.

Parents are supposed to check off each night that their child has completed their homework. A few weeks into the third grade I quickly realized that checking work was no longer an option because I clearly didn’t understand third grade math. Since September I have been making check marks where Michael tells me to and hope that he’s done his work properly.

On top of the fact that I don’t get it – there’s the issue that I just think it’s stupid.

“Why – can’t he just write 5×4=20?” I plead with Mr. Gaga. “This is such a waste of time!!”

See below – the question was “If 5 people have 4 bananas each, how many bananas are there?”

This is a picture of "a guy thinking about bananas, a guy speaking in bananas, a guy juggling  bananas,  a banana face guy and a guy that hates bananas" says Michael after ten minutes of work with no answer....

This is a picture of “a guy thinking about bananas, a guy speaking in bananas, a guy juggling bananas, a banana face guy and a guy that hates bananas” says Michael after ten minutes of work with no answer….

“Um – ok what’s the answer?” I say with disgust and send him back to do his work properly.

He comes back with this:

This is five plates with four bananas on each plate.  This is the modern way to find out that 5x4 =20.

This is five plates with four bananas on each plate. This is the modern way to find out that 5×4 =20.

“On what planet is this a good way to learn?!!” I ask Mr. Gaga with disgust.  “It just took Michael 20 minutes to answer a multiplication question that in the 1980’s would have taken us 30 seconds!!”

“It’s the common core – it’s good.” Mr. Gaga answers diplomatically.

“To what end?” I ask.  “So that we can compete with other countries?”

I have news for everyone, 10 Chinese boys just cured cancer and performed a full violin concert while my son was over here in America dicking around drawing 5o0 bananas.

I am not impressed.

And if you think I am not impressed – just come over some day and watch Sam do his first grade homework.

He also has to “show his work.”  But since his work is much easier it’s even more ridiculous.

Each afternoon I tread lightly – plying him with snacks and chocolate milk, hugs and kisses, before I bring up the dreaded task of homework.

He immediately spirals into a very dark mood and starts banging things around looking for pencils and his folder.  His annoyance level gets higher and higher with each stupid question he has to answer.

Last week he had to fill out a “pattern worksheet.”

It was something like this.  And it asked him to explain how he knew which numbers were missing....

It was something like this. And it asked him to explain how he knew which numbers were missing….

He seems to take after me with his lack of patience or interest in bullshit assignments that are stupid and lead to Chinese people conquering the world while we are left holding our dick in our hands 500 pictures of bananas.

He was muttering under his breath while he got to work.  After he completed the first row – I reminded him to write out “how he knew which numbers came next.”

“I KNOW!” he screamed like a lunatic.

When I checked on his work I was so proud.

I call this some good work coming from a 6-year-old.

I call this some good work coming from a 6-year-old.


In closing, I still don’t know if we are smart or dangerously inept over here in the Gaga household – but I am determined to figure it out this week at the parent-teacher conferences!!!






30 responses »

  1. I dread when my son starts school. This common core thing sounds like the dummifying of our children. Smile faces on reports cards, show your work? Why can’t someone just know the answer. I think your 6 year old is a genius 🙂

    • Thanks Lesley – I think he’s pretty smart too!! But what do I know???? LOL

    • Seriously… Googoo Gaga children do not get smiley faces on report cards. I don’t see a picture of that in this article. Also, the CC is not much different from most standards that were already in place. If anything, they are more rigourous and leave more time for students to gain a solid ground in concepts. (I want to add I disagree with the CCSS b/c I think states should have the right to create their own standards and still have access to large amounts of federal funding..) Anyhow, I seriously don’t understand what your problem is Googoo Gaga Mom. What is the point of multiplication… it’s to be able to add faster b/c objects are grouped together. Drawing a picture to understand this concept better or using manipluatives is the beginning step to fact fluency. Students need to understand the concepts before they start memorizing them. Even when I was in elementary school (20+ years ago), my parents had to drill me so that I could memorize them. That stil holds true today. The memorization portion is not as important as a solid understanding of the concepts and how the skill is used in real life. I’d also like to add that breaking up students into homog or heterog groups is a teaching strategy that dates back to the days of Noah! Just stop worrying if he’s a dumby or a genius and start communicating more frequently with his teachers. Also lots of so-called idiots in class are quite bright… they just need others to see that in them before they start to believe it themselves. I’m sure your son is bright and enjoys annoying you. At the conference, ask for current assessment scores in math or reading and I 100% guarantee the teacher can give you specifics. These scores will eventually be tied to his/her teacher-evaluation. It’s a big deal to know where each kids stands academically. ( I do find this article funny… and I can see how frustrated you must feel. Imagine being the teacher and having to teach students how to actually THINK and PROBLEM SOLVE when all they talk about is tv and videogames.)

      • Ok Lulu Mom – you must be a teacher. You are right I don’t get a smiley face on the “report card” – I forgot to mention the amazing web of reporting that the teacher’s give me that consists of solid “P’s” for “progressing” mid-year and then magically solid “M’s” for “mastered” at year -end.
        This is more bullshit thats meaningless if you ask me…..
        But I do
        know its not the fault of the teachers – its the way it is….

      • I think you missed the joke or it just went over your head. She wasn’t LITERALLY saying you see a smiley face on the report card (although you evidently have not seen the smiley faces on my kids report card). But that’s besides the point. It’s the point she was making is that this watered down shitty way of teaching children is that EVERYBODY IS A WINNER!! Nobody is a loser. It’s a disgusting way of basically not letting any child feel failure or knowing they are not keeping up pace wtih the smart kids.

        Or here is a better way of putting it I am sure the blog author would agree, all the smart kids are being held back in order to pull all the retarded kids up to par. Gone are the days when you have a clear set of idiots, regular kids, and smart kids. Now Everybody is a winner. Everybody gets a golden star. Everybody is … well … common. I find it disgusting because quite frankly that isn’t how the world works. And it SHOULDN’T work that way. Because we do actually have retarded people, regular (common) people, and extraordinary people.

        If someone like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was brought up in this shit, we never would of had any of the good music he produced because he would of been held back by all the idiots. True dat.

  2. I’m a teacher Lady and I hate the Common Core. Ridiculous. We are going to be teaching to a standard that is sub par. Check out Steven Colbert’s take, it’s hilarious.
    Fret not, the pendulum will swing the other way. I’m in year 16 as a public educator and I have seen so many reforms that I can’t keep up.

  3. “The grading system is just basically a series of smiley-faces…..” I answered earnestly” okay this shit had me in tears laughing. I’m so glad I started following you with the spongebob blog.

    Let me explain my day today. I too have a child who was formally a genius and is now borderline retarded. Actually I think she’s smart because we are into astrology and chemistry and shit like that. Meaning – we watch documentaries about how black holes suck in light and she’s way into it. Yet she’s scoring a D in math this year (6th grade). I spent the day at the library literally re-teaching her all the shit that she was supposed to be learning in school. I’m pretty good at this shit (luckily) so here we go:

    Me: “Ok chloe, volume is equal to length times width times height”

    Kid: “Wow daddy I didnt even know that”

    we’re 3 seconds into the god damn assignment I was teaching her in the rented out study room at the library and she already didn’t have a clue. I’ll skip to the end

    **2 hours of teaching a kid something I haven’t actually done myself in over 20 years**

    Kid: “Wow daddy learning this is fun with you. I underestimated you”

    Me: (mildly annoyed and sort of feeling like a badass at the same time) “Get your shit and let’s get the hell out of here”

    Oh and the series of checkmarks and smiley faces does end! I swear to hell it does. They just have to enter Middle school, which for us was this year. I still don’t really understand how my kid goes from winning math awards out of her ass like this Benjamin Bannicker award [some black guy math genius dude from the 1800’s because evidently every race and every gender must be represented in all the 5th grade school awards except…dun dun dun dunnnnn .. the EVIL WHITE MALE MUST NOT BE OVERLY REPRESENTED (or evidently represented at all?)!! (that’s me by the way!)]

    Political Correctness = the end of civilization .. personal opinion. Glad someone else sees it how it is too.

    Oh and by the way, my kid got a 41 on the last god damn math test, which is why I was RE-TEACHING her ass in a library study room on a sunday. She’s got two things that she got lucky about basically:

    1. this isn’t football season. (sorry kid, Sep-January, you’re fucked here)
    2. I’m mildly good at math

    The whole me being a white male thing is kind of a running joke though. Don’t tell anyone about that one. You’d think we were the blubbering idiots of the nation if you ever turned on the TV these days.

  4. On our report cards, plus signs are bad. It took me a couple of report cards to realize this. On the behavior section, lots of plus signs. I’m patting myself on the back thinking my kid is the model of good behavior, when all the while a plus sign in the box next to ‘Listens and follows directions’ really means ‘more effort needed.’

  5. Wow, that “I have news for everyone…” paragraph literally made me spit out my employee-funded bottled water! The US is becoming the most intellectually lazy bunch of morons in the WORLD and it seems so obvious that this is a strategy whereby the “Smarties”, aka the powers-that-be in this country are setting us up for a takeover where the highest-bidding foreign superpower gets to occupy us giving our President and all his Chosen Ones their own country; probably Texas. I’m not sure at this point what will happen to Hollywood but who cares? Your 6-y-o could be future leader of the revolution!

  6. I enjoyed your humorous look at the dumbing down of America. I taught English for two years, when I couldn’t find a corporate communications position in Tampa a few years ago. Two years was enough. Teachers cannot be creative anymore. We were told not to “supplement or supplant” the crappy “Springboard” curriculum. Freshman only read ONE BOOK in the entire year. ONE BOOK! IN AN ENGLISH CLASS!!! Unbelievable. I loved your line, “10 Chinese boys just cured cancer and performed a full violin concert while my son was over here in America dicking around drawing 5o0 bananas.” You said THAT right!

  7. Thanks for making it fun to get out of bed on Monday mornings. So frigging funny!

  8. I remember the days when I need to memorize the multiplication table!

  9. Think its time for all Parents to stand up to these Idiots who have made up these tests. No, not all kids are the same & Yes, be tested once in a while to see how the kids are doing. Revolution…….god help all of you young parents. You have a` big decision to make now. Some school districts, are not going along with the Core testing. Good luck!

  10. Common Core was designed to better teach children by having them understand the process and concepts of math, rather than just create a society of people that can simply regurgitate facts, while not fully understanding the concept behind it. The workplace is calling for people who can think and problem solve, not people who can just spew facts. By drawing a picture of multiplication, they can understand what multiplication means rather than just the ability to fill in a multiplication table without understanding the principles behind it. You see this when high school students use a calculator but press the wrong function. Then they don’t have the foundation to understand that their answer doesn’t make sense because they never learned what each function means….

  11. The Farmer's Daughter

    Love your 6 year olds take on it! Hilarious! Totally agree with you on all this BS. My son missed about a week of school earlier this year with being sick…the class moved on to long division, so when the work came home that weekend, that’s what we did. He kept arguing with me that I was doing it wrong. Long story short, taught him my 1980’s style of long division and he figured it out quick as snot…went in and talked to the teacher and she was totally okay with it although said he would still have to learn the more head banging up against the wall, seriously way too freaking hard and stinking long way to do it. Really don’t know why we have to make things so freaking difficult…

  12. I love you so much! This is brilliant. I have a 5th grader struggling in math, and they grade on a number system. 4 is an A I guess. My husband flipped his shit when he realized they don’t give grades in elementary school here. We convert it so middle school isn’t a shock. Hey kid, you got a B. Wtf is a B? It’s like a 3. Oh, ok. Math sucks.

    • We do the same thing at my school. We have to assign kids numbers from 1-4 on their everyday tests and assignments BUT then on the report card, we mysteriously change all of those numbers into A’s and B’s. No wonder parents hate us. I hate myself. (Not really. I’m actually a pretty cool teacher. The system is stupid though.)

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  14. Love, love, love! I think we might sharing the same brain, I wrote a post a few weeks back about the freaking out over international math assessments.
    We have similar views on how the Asian countries are literally laughing behind our backs while we go about “drawing 500 bananas” to illustrate a simple math problem. Lord save us from ourselves!!!

  15. Oy! This common core thing is madness. I want so badly to break out the flash cards. It takes my little guy forever to get his math homework done. I feel like I need to keep a flask with me.

  16. Between that first drawing and “10 Chinese boys just cured cancer and performed a full violin concert while my son was over here in America dicking around drawing 500 bananas.” … well, my kids want to know “What’s so funny, Mom???”

    Should I teach them that dick can also be a verb? Do they even know it can be a noun and not just a proper name? Well, I mean, I’m SURE my son does. He’s 14. And if HE doesn’t know yet, then his friends are failing him as the bad influences they’re supposed to be.

    Common Core is is big deal down here in Louisiana, too. But then so are drive-thru daiquiri shops and a recently released from prison governor who plans to run for public office again. It’s what we do.

    I hope you find the answers you seek. Even if they’re sketched out on looseleaf paper and take ten times long than necessary to ascertain.

    “Dicking.” (still laughing) Made my morning. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with Ketchup With Us. Please tell your friends. Before this shit becomes an endangered species. Hope to see you again on the 15th.

  17. As a teacher, I’m at a loss for words. I’m so freaking fearful our state will adopt this. Sigh.

    Thanks for the great post and linking up!!

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