The adoption of the Common Core standards in public schools seems to have led to an identity crisis in high school math instruction. At kid #3’s school, pre-algebra, algebra (1 and 2 as far as I can tell), and geometry are no longer offered as separate classes. Now it’s Integrated Math I, II, III, and IV. Get through those and you’re on to Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus. Well, that’s what I hear. I don’t expect to ever have firsthand or parental experience with Calculus.
From what I’ve seen of her assignments, Integrated Math smooshes everything together, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a great way to learn brand new concepts. We used a fair amount of geometry in the two college algebra classes I took last year. But it was the easy, straightforward geometry: the Pythagorean Theorem, in particular. For students who’ve never learned the Pythagorean Theorem it wouldn’t have been so easy or straightforward. It would be hard to recognize the Theorem as a separate piece of geometry if you’d only ever seen it used as a part of algebra. I think.
It’s entirely possible that I’m just used to seeing things in the same way that I learned them. Kid #3 struggles with math and the integration is really not helping her. The math teachers all appear to need a sabbatical; they’re frustrated and tired. Last year’s teacher sent out angry emails to parents whenever he reached the end of his rope — which resulted in frantic text exchanges at school like this one:
Me: “Mr R is p*ssed. Show me your homework as soon as you get home. You did it, right??? You said you did it!!!”
Kid #3: “Calm down Moooommm. My team was the only one that did the homework.”
Oh yeah, the math classes are divided into teams which theoretically work together to learn. Kid #3 has math first period (just like last year) and nobody’s working together on anything at 7:10am.
It’s a goatrope.
This year’s teacher, Mrs. C, has a voice straight out of the Charlie Brown cartoons. Robotic with a side of snark. And she was voted “Most Intimidating Teacher” three years in a row.
It’s shaping up to be another long year mathematically.