Common Core state standards are more than just a new set of learning standards implemented by the government on a whim. The standards are founded on studies and discoveries in the learning and brain development fields, and supported by countless leaders in the fields of technology and mathematics. Test results are in, and are sure to impact the teaching approaches math tutors take with their students.According to Jo Boaler’s article in The Hechinger Report, data collected from 13 million students taking the PISA tests showed that the lowest achieving students were those that, in a normal classroom setting, were considered high achievers due to their high speed calculation and memorization skills.
Worldwide, the students that scored the lowest were those that relied on memorization.
Traditional education systems in the United States and other countries have always uplifted a certain type of learner, and largely discredited students that learn at a slower pace and are less inclined to learn methodical approaches. Students who demonstrated the ability to think of mathematics as a set of connected ideas were deemed in need of math tutoring, while “memorizers” were awarded. As a result, the United States has the most memorizers out of any county in the world, and mathematics is one of the most disliked subjects.
Common Core state standards seek to bring about a paradigm shift as to how the education system approaches mathematics. Instead of simply teaching methods, schools are urged to teach it as a multidimensional subject with connections, critical questions, complex solutions and problem solving, and new ways of communication. As schools continue to mobilize and meet the standards, the tutoring industry will shift with it. Instead of emphasizing the customary methods, math tutors must now focus on the deep understanding of mathematical concepts and their relation to one another.
Mathematics is one of the primary reasons that parents may seek a private tutoring service for their children. The desperate push to advance students to the highest possible math course before graduating high school stems from a fear that without a series of mathematical achievements to show, a college education and a successful career become unobtainable. Such thinking is rooted in misconceptions that the mastery of mathematics is dependent on memorization and calculation speed. However, the test results show clearly it is not speed, but deep comprehension that is the foundation of mathematical success.
Being in Advanced Placement Calculus in the senior year of high school does not guarantee a student’s true success in the field of mathematics, nor does procedural memorization help in a highly skilled career. The ability to truly think “outside the box” comes from careful consideration and the deep, deliberate thinking that is typical of real mathematicians. The speed at which figures are multiplied together has virtually no ground in the real world. In short, the entire education system is in the process of reformatting to the goal set by Common Core state standards, and parents, teachers, and math tutors all need to adapt for the sake of the next generations of students.