Quick: what’s 3 x 4?
If you said 11 — or, hell, if you said 7, pi, or infinity squared — that’s just fine under the Common Core, the new national curriculum that the Obama administration will impose on American public school students this fall.
In a pretty amazing YouTube video, Amanda August, a curriculum coordinator in a suburb of Chicago called Grayslake, explains that getting the right answer in math just doesn’t matter as long as kids can explain the necessarily faulty reasoning they used to get to that wrong answer.
“Even if they said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how,” August says in the video.
When someone in the audience (presumably a parent, but it’s not certain) asks if teachers will be, you know, correcting students who don’t know rudimentary arithmetic instantly, August makes another meandering, longwinded statement.
“We want our students to compute correctly but the emphasis is really moving more towards the explanation, and the how, and the why, and ‘can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer,’” August details. “And not just knowing that it’s 12, but why is it 12? How do I know that?”