Column: math can save our society

Math teachers are teaching nontraditional methods of math, causing students to be punished for their ways of solving problems.


Fenna Semken and Sarah Longmire

One day, I got a take home math test, and I went home and worked extremely hard on it to get a good grade. I felt like I had done great on it.

A few days later I got the test back, only to find out I got a C on it. I went to discuss this with my teacher and he explained to me that he felt I didn’t show enough work and I needed to draw out the triangles of the unit circle in order to get the problems correct. Well, I had the unit circle memorized, so it didn’t make sense to me why I had to draw that out. I had gotten all the problems correct, yet I didn’t need to draw the triangles. It had said nowhere on the test to draw out the triangles, so if I have it memorized, why am I being punished for this?

It’s ridiculous that we are required to draw out triangles for the unit circle when it is something simple that can be memorized. I understand some people might need help but requiring it for the entirety of students feels like we are being dumbed down and forced to do unnecessary work.

I think if that’s how my teacher would like to run his class, then go for it. But it’s preposterous because, as a society, we are downgrading to a point where we have to teach students an absurd, ‘simplified’ way to do math instead of teaching them practical and traditional methods. I truly believe we are failing as a mathematical society.

Later that week, I was helping two of my siblings, who are in second and third grade, with their math homework. When I was helping them with a problem, which happened to be simple multiplication, the math book and teacher had taught them in a way which made it much more complicated than it should have been. If we just taught children the traditional way of doing math, and once they understood it, though it might be harder for them at first, it will truly benefit them for the rest of their lives.

School is no longer based on how you as a person are learning. It shouldn’t matter how you learn it if you can get it right. If I learn how to do a problem in a different math class from years before and then I do it in my new class, I should not be punished for being able to do my work in my head. 

Though I do want to be clear that this isn’t the fault of the teachers themselves. I feel that our district is full of amazing math teachers who are required to teach a core curriculum mandated by the state. Teachers are being forced to teach a type of math which is detrimental to students futures.

Teaching these traditional methods of mathematics will keep our country from falling apart. I don’t want an engineer building the bridges that I drive on who still has to use hang seven to do their division.