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The Curse of Fuzzy Math
When I write my weekly columns (they appear in 12 newspapers now), I often get reader email back. But by far the subject that brings in the most email is whenever I talk about how schools are not really doing a good job of educating anymore.

First, they don't teach phonics. They teach "whole language". And then they can't figure out why kids can't read. Then they no longer make kids memorize their math facts. Counting on your fingers is acceptable. And we wonder why we do so poorly in tests.

Anyway, I came across this YouTube video which brilliantly explains the problem in how schools teach math.

Pretty tragic, isn't it?

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At 1:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…


I just saw your blog for the first time... (via Mommy Life).

I watched with familiar disgust, the video you included on "The Curse of Fuzzy Math." We live in Washington State and just pulled our three boys out of public school last summer.

The video is right, but only half the story... it's worse! Math is being totally revamped due to the WASL, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. It's a nightmare of "teaching to the test".

My 5th grader, who is reasonably bright, had not begun to learn his times tables. Like the speaker said, no algorithms.

He would come home with a TWO PAGE math problem like this:

If the teacher has 49 brownies and 7 bags, how many brownies will go in each bag if she divides them equally?

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

But even if they had taught him that 7 X 7 = 49, and therefore 49 divided by 7 = 7, just writing down the correct answer wouldn't cut it.

He was supposed to:

Go through the paragraph/question and highlight all the pertinent information.

Draw a picture of how he might solve the problem.

Write a paragraph describing (at length and in detail!) how he might solve the problem.

Then write the problem and the answer.

This is ABSURD! (My husband says obscene!)

And - like so many things about school - all the writing this involves is more of a girl thing than a boy thing.

Not only is it taking a long time to slowly bring my boys "up to speed", but we have a huge math aversion to overcome!

Thanks for posting this video... spread the word!

Julie G


At 9:51 AM , Blogger Sheila said…


Thanks for commenting. What a story! I'll use that for a column someday.


At 4:35 PM , Blogger KeepItSimple said…

You forgot to mention, Julie, that on the WASL if a student has no clue what the answer is, 7 in this case, but does a fantastic job with the diagramming and drawing and writing, he could actually get a higher school on that problem than the child who answered it correctly, but was not a great artist or writer.

Go figure!

We use Saxon and love it.

PS - We pulled our two older children out of WA State public schools after they finished 4th and 7th grade. At the beginning of her 8th grade year, our daughter could not add/subtract or multiply/divide decimals or fractions. She was a straight A student, though. She had been using a calculator since 2nd grade for math. The only year they did not use a calculator was their 4th grade year because the teacher that year, thankfully!, was 'old school'.

It's a sad, sad situation here.

Blessings -
There is a season...


At 1:04 AM , Blogger Bunny Trails said…

Things have just gotten so ridiculous anymore. My boys were subjected to a bit of fuzzy math, but fortunately we pulled them out to homeschool early enough, I believe. But I remember being SO frustrated because I couldn't help my 4th grade son with his math homework. And I've always been very good with math! Even his teacher understood that it was kind of lame.

While some of us can change the course through homeschooling, it's scary to think about how these poor kids are going to function as adults. I also posted about the same video here:

Thanks for keeping this video circulating, Sheila! People need to see this!


At 11:38 AM , Blogger Cassandra said…

I graduated from high school in 2000 and earned an associates degree in 2002 so I'm 6 years out of math courses. I had NO problems solving the video examples with the traditional methods. But I was totally lost on the new form of math. lol. It's all about guessing! I'm so glad my hubby and I want to home school our kids...

Oh, and hi! I wandered over from Amy's Humble Musings. :)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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