U.S. students tested below average in math, and barely average in science and reading, when compared to more than 60 other developed countries (according to Program for International Student Assessment.)
If you have been following the current news reports regarding Common Core Educational Standards in the U.S., you know that the sobering statistic above is not likely to change any time soon. In a recent interview with Fox News, Dr. James Milgram, Stanford University Mathematician and former member of the Common Core Math Standards Validation Committee, explained that when it comes to math, the present standards set by the Common Core are not going to get our kids ahead in this world.
Dr. Milgram served on the the Math Standards Validation Committee, the team assigned to establishing new and improved core standards in math for America’s public schools. However, when the process reached its end, Dr. Milgram refused to sign the new math standards, stating that they were inadequate for college preparation. He was one of only five members, out of approximately 25, that did not sign. He explained, “In mathematics, Common Core stops with algebra II. Algebra II is absolutely minimum preparation, even to go to college; […] this level of preparation is simply insufficient.
“…in the future, if we want to work with top level people, we are going to have to go to China or Japan or Korea….that’s the future we’re looking at.” ~ Dr. James Milgram
Dr. Jason Zimba, one of the three main writers on the Math Standards Validation Committee, admitted that Common Core Math only prepares students for non-selective colleges, not for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or selective colleges, and certainly not for STEM careers.
What’s a Mom or Dad to Do?
As a parent with children in the public school system, I can let facts and statistics like these worry me (a lot,) or I can take a more proactive approach. While our government fights its way through a quagmire of self-imposed red tape, let us parents ensure that our children do not suffer from a lack of early mathematical education. We can all benefit from the brilliance of Maria Montessori, and in essence, teach our children to teach themselves.
Did you know that children, in fact humans, have an inherently mathematical mind? Montessori knew this. She also knew that children have a “sensitive period” for learning math, which happens around age 3½ to four years. A sensitive period is a window of time during which children learn certain concepts naturally and easily. As Mary Ellen Maunz, M. Ed, Founder and Program Director of Age of Montessori explains, “One of the most brilliant parts of Montessori is using those sensitive periods for education. If you teach a child [during a sensitive period,] it is easy because he absorbs by doing. If you wait until the child is in the reasoning mind, at six or seven, he has to study and memorize.”
Age of Montessori offers a 6-week, on-line course, Early Childhood Mathematical Mind, where parents and caregivers can learn the fundamentals of Montessori’s brilliant methods.