Today I was looking over Mimi's school work and at the bottom of a math page was this question: What digit is in the ten thousands place in the number six hundred three thousand, twenty-one. Explain how you found your answer. Her explanation: "I looked at the numbers and thought." Her answer was marked wrong by the teacher. But of course, I found it especially funny.
I'm wondering myself what is the correct answer. I know it's zero, but how do you explain it without sounding like an idiot. "Because it's in the ten thousands place?" Then you would be repeating the question. Wouldn't that be silly? Now I'm thinking Mimi's answer wasn't so bad. "I used my brain and I'm just a little smarter than the average bear." "Why do you need an explanation?" "Because in the number 603,021 a zero is in the ten thousands place." I think next time she should write, "It was a lucky guess."
I just don't understand how to explain. My answer would be "Math is my best subject and I just get it." I have a bit of an issue with third grade curriculum anyway. Here's a test: What is a predicate? Do you know the answer? I'm sure most of you do because most of my friends are geniuses, so go and ask a neighbor. Chances are they don't know the answer. You know why? Because who cares what a predicate is unless you are an English major?! And also, why do they waste their time on "mean, median and mode" and the "stem and leaf" method? No one uses that unless you're a statistician. Most of us are familiar with finding "averages" (mean) and have to do that occasionally. But I haven't ever needed to know the mode or median of anything, except to pass a test. Same with the quadratic formula - but that was my choice taking advanced algebra in high school. I got an A in the course but haven't used it since then.
So, why would we be throwing this into the third grade curriculum when our kids are having a hard enough time learning times tables and cursive writing? The predicates, means, modes and medians are all out the door by fourth grade. I've never had to identify a predicate in my adult life. Though I'm sure I've unconsciously used them often, almost every sentence to be exact!
I had to call my BFF to share Mimi's funny answer and her comment was, "She's definitely your daughter, isn't she?"
So, my issue is: when our children are lagging behind other states in education, why are we feeding them useless information? Does anyone agree?