The first reflection is on an article called, “Math Under Common Core Has Even Parents Stumbling” LINK
Core reflection question: “Is first grade too early for abstract mathematics?”
The Common Core curriculum has sparked a conversation among school administrators, parents, and students on the abstract style of teaching mathematics at an early age. Children who are in the first grade are taught mathematics in ways that encourage critical thinking but parents view these methods as being too “tedious” and unnecessarily convoluted. Therefore, the core question needs to be, should we be teaching first graders these abstract concepts? And if so, when is the appropriate age to learn such concepts? When the mathematics curriculum of the highest performing nations around the world are analyzed it is apparent that critical learning is not emphasized. Instead, pure memorization of formulations and painstaking repetition of problem sets are common in high performing nations such as South Korea. However, this observation questions the standards of excellence in mathematics globally, and questions the relationship between pure memorization and critical thinking. On top of that, the final analysis needs to be how the two differing modes of learning impact their performance in the workforce. It is easy to dismiss change as being tedious or difficult, but upon closer examination the use of abstract concepts to promote problem solving in education aligns with what makes America different from countries such as South Korea. Critical thinking is an effective mode to live out the American values of individuality, ingenuity, and innovation. As a nation plagued with economic woes and political gridlock, critical thinking is a valuable and necessary commodity for growth. However, the appropriate age to promote these concepts is still up for debate. While first grade seems like an early age for such difficult concepts, the long term implications for creativity, ingenuity, and critical thinking may rely on these foundations being set at an early age. Child psychologists, sociologists, and neuro-scientists need to enter the conversation and provide the public with scientific studies on the benefits and dangers of early learning. Only then can we substantiate the concerns of the parents in the article and determine the appropriate age for this level of learning.