Conservatism is what happens when a fear of the dark grows up — and nothing keeps grown-ups in the dark quite like childhood ignorance. Yes, wrapped in blissful ignorance, the mind can go many magical places, where the rules of logic need not apply and any dream is up for grabs. Unfortunately, when it comes to third-grade math, the rules of logic have a nasty way of shedding unwanted light on grown-up ignorance.
In his recent blog post on Redstate.com, titled “This is What Common Core Looks Like,” conservative blogger Erick Erickson displays his ignorance not only of third-grade logic, but of that socialist institution known as Common Core. He begins with this image, a snapshot of his daughter’s math homework:
The picture above is from my third grade daughter’s math book. This is the only page that explains that method for subtraction. There are, for the record, four ways to subtract that my third grader must learn.
We send our child to a Christian private school. We thought our child could escape this madness. But standardized tests, the SAT, and the ACT are all moving over to Common Core. So our child has to learn this insanity. But we cannot help her. The book offers only one example.
The traditional method of subtracting, borrowing and carrying numbers, is derisively called the “Granny Method.” The new method makes no freaking sense to either my third grader or my wife.
This is maddening and angering and frustrating. This is why so many parents are so upset. They cannot help their children. The math makes no sense and seems to offer no practical purpose other than it is new.
The only champions of common core I know are paid to like it and most of them have no kids. These people want worker bees in their cogs. They want automatons. They do not want productive, independent citizens.
Now, the irony is pretty thick with this one, and complex; like a layer cake of ignorance, spiced with Deliberately Backward Extract, and accented with juicy raisins of Orwellian Doublethink.
Ignorance Layer 1 — This Isn’t Common Core
That’s right; the entire premise of Erick’s rant is that this little mathematical trick is part of the socialist agenda to transform all children into hive-minded worker bees, identical and uniform in their hateful not-being-stupidness. But, unfortunately, this “add-up” method of subtraction isn’t even part of Common Core.
Ignorance Layer 2 — It isn’t “New”
Part of the conservative mindset is a kind of inherent narcissism; that they already know everything that needs to be known. And if they don’t know something, it must be some scary new brainwashing thing some liberal made up. But this method not only isn’t new, it’s something most of us do every day in our heads. It’s just typical mental arithmetic put on paper.
For instance, say you go to Target (of course), spend 23.50 on American Flag decals and last season’s DVD set of Honey Boo-Boo. You hand the cashier $30. The mental arithmetic is fairly straightforward.
- $23.50 + $0.50 = $24
- Change = $0.50
- $24 + $1 = $25.
- Change = $1 + $0.50 = $1.50
- $25 + $5 = $30
- Change = $5 + $1.50 = $6.50
Yes, that does look a bit intimidating when you write it down; but then again, so does almost any logical argument. Doesn’t stop us from using logical arguments on an almost subconscious level. And, if you’re like most people, this is how you do subtraction in your head most of the time anyway. The “new socialist way” Erickson bemoans is just the kind of mental arithmetic any waitress does a thousand times a day, and it’s been taught since before public schools existed.
Deliberately Backward Extract — The “Granny Method” is the REAL “Useless Trick”
OK, it’s not entirely useless. The old “carry-the-one” method works really well for calculations that are too big to do in your head. But, seriously — how many times are you ever going to be asked to subtract 3,478.22 from 785,648.11, and NOT have a calculator on hand? Even the cheapest $10 Wal-Mart cell phones have them now, so it’s not like kids of the future will need to walk around with a Texas Instruments Tabulatron in their satchels. And if they don’t have a 20-year-old cell phone handy, someone nearby probably will. And even if no calculator is available, learning how to write out the mental arithmetic in the “add-up” format like this still makes it a valid fall-back method for big numbers.
In fact, you could make a pretty solid argument that, given the realities of today, and those of the future, kids should only focus on learning mental arithmetic methods like this. But, then again…that would mean admitting the world has irrevocably changed, and we have to adapt to it. Not exactly the conservative’s comfort zone.
Orwellian Doublethink Raisins — The Granny Method IS the “Automaton” Method
Conservatives will only ever encourage orthodoxy — doing things the accepted way, the way they’ve always been done. That makes for unchanging uniformity of thought, and the elimination of terrifying differentness. So there’s an ark-load of choking irony in Erick Erickson’s (whose very NAME is a case study in generational redundancy) claim that these new methods are designed to create “worker bees,” and destroy “productive, creative citizens.” In reality, it’s orthodox thought (doing things the accepted way) that destroys creativity…ask Einstein, Picasso or Hunter S. Thompson. However, Erickson doesn’t see it that way. The way he sees it, (as IngSoc might have put it) “Sameness is Creativity.”
Math is logic in its purest form, and logic sheds light on the darkness of ignorance. If you want to create the next generation of conservatives, the quickest way to do it is to keep logic out of their heads. That way, they can never replace you, find better ways of doing things or, Jesus forbid, evolve to CHANGE ANYTHING.
And we’d bet Erick and his wife are pretty far from accepting anything that has to do with evolution.
H/T: Addicting Info