Partial Products

How is it that the schools are still changing the way kids do math? When I was in school they had just overhauled the curriculum, and now that my boys are in school they have overhauled it again. I’m resigning to the fact that there will always be “new math” to wrestle with each generation. The problem with “new math” is that it makes it impossible to help your children with their homework.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

“Aggghhh, I can’t do this!”

“Let me see if I can help. Oh, okay here is how you do this. Add this, carry the one, add a zero….”

“That’s not how my teacher did it.”

“Okay well this is how I learned it.”

“NO MOM. THAT’S NOT HOW YOU DO IT. I’M GOING TO GET IT WRONG. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT!!”

My son’s homework last night was two-digit multiplication. You should see how they are teaching it now. The process is called “Partial Products”. More like partial craziness when you try to relearn two-digit multiplication. Here is the process fully solved.

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Does that look partially familiar to you? I think it would be easy to partially lose interest doing it this way. Ha! Truth be told I kind of liked the challenge of figuring out the new math. Now I understand why they spent so much time learning about the ones, tens, and hundreds placement of digits.

We started the “Partial Products” homework with the requisite tears that come with most math homework followed by the aforementioned conversation. When I figured it out and tried to show him he completely shut down and refused to be taught. I, on the other hand, was pretty psyched and proud that I had conquered this “new math – partial products” assignment. He was so frustrated by the whole thing and still convinced that I was doing it wrong that he had to leave it for the next morning. “Don’t worry kiddo, with a fresh set of eyes you’ll figure it out,” I told him.

Thankfully the next morning he did: not partially but wholly.

 

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