Take a look these two 3rd grade math problems, which seem to be answered correctly; but for some reason the teacher docked marks for them. After Reddit users saw this, they were up in arms!
When a 3rd-grader correctly answered two questions: “5 x 3 = 15” and “4 x 6 = 24,” and yet both answers still lost marks, Reddit users felt it was either the teacher or the questions that were wrong, not the student, thus arousing an online debate. What do you think? Let’s have a closer look at the problems.
In both questions, the student got the correct solution: 15 and 24, but the questions also asked the student to “use the repeated addition strategy” in question 1, and to “draw an array” in question 2.
While for question 1, the student wrote: “5+5+5,” the teacher docked a mark, and gave a correction: “3+3+3+3+3.”
For question 2, the student drew: 6 rows of 4, and again the teacher docked a mark and gave a correction, drawing: 4 rows of 6.
Of course, both add up to the same thing, so why did the student lose 2 marks just because they arrived at the same answer using only slightly different approaches? When Reddit users saw the corrections, many sided with the student.
Of course, the teacher had a reason for docking the marks; there is a standardized methodology for solving problems in such a way, and clearly the child got the method mixed up, solving it the other way around.
It does raise the question however: is such standardization necessary in problem solving? Some Reddit users felt it wasn’t, and felt the questions were unfair.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in the United States, states that, “Part of what we are trying to teach children is to become problem solvers and thinkers,” according to the NCTM president, Diane Briars. “We want students to understand what they’re doing, not just get the right answer.”
Are such bizarre-seeming methodologies important tools for learning or solving problems, or is there a problem with the methodologies that are being taught in classes in America? Are such methodologies useful or are they impediments, indeed real obstacles, in obtaining a true education? What do you think?