The debate over New Math vs. the “old way” is heating up.
Using a Star Wars Yoda board with a magic marker, “Nanny” Melissa Strzala is posting YouTube videos that try to break down New Math, the Common Core technique for solving equations that she learned in her recent tutoring sessions.
Strzala remains upbeat and positive, but one can’t help but feel an underlying sense of absurdity as she explains how to solve simple equations the “old way” and then with New Math, displaying how much longer and weirder and more convoluted the technique can seem, even to adults. The videos have gone viral.
Some defend the New Math technique, including blogger Hemant Mehta on Friendly Atheist. “The problem with that method is that if I ask students to explain why it works, they’d have a really hard time explaining it to me,” he writes. “They might be able to do the computation, but they don’t get the math behind it. For some people, that’s fine. For math teachers, that’s a problem because it means a lot of students won’t be able to grasp other math concepts in the future because they never really developed ‘number sense.’”
Which way is best? The debate rages on, but at the very least, people are talking passionately about math—when does that happen?