The Incredibles 2 trailer that has been making the rounds has sparked discussions about a seemingly new villain: math homework.
“Math is math is MATH!” a frustrated Mr. Incredible yells when his son explains that his teacher said to use a different approach than what Mr. Incredible is familiar with.
Many parents found the clip highly relatable and hilariously on point:
mr. incredible saying “why would they change math?! math is math!!” in the incredibles trailer is the most relatable thing i’ve heard this year
— andy a (@AndreaVAponte) February 15, 2018
Many of them were quick to call out Common Core:
— Renee Ann Dargitz (@ReneeAnnDargitz) February 15, 2018
But for all the teachers who are working hard to have kids learn and master math skills, it was a groan-worthy joke.
First-grade teacher @Mr_Harris_Math lamented:
Ok. I’m just as excited as the next guy about The Incredibles 2, but was they old math/new math joke necessary?
— Mr. Harris (@Mr_Harris_Math) February 15, 2018
Meanwhile, Professor, K-12 STEM Education at University of Central Florida @sarahbbush, expressed disappointment:
This Disney trailer is complex for me. On one hand I’m loving the female super hero side but on the other it shows a scene that isn’t helpful to our field on “new math” (ugh- which isn’t new)!!! https://t.co/v44NvzWue9
— Sarah Bush (@sarahbbush) February 15, 2018
Former high school math teacher, @ddmeyer took it to the next level:
“Math is math.” Boycott THE INCREDIBLES 2.
— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) February 16, 2018
Experts agree that getting kids to understand numbers, not just memorize equations, is key to making sure they succeed at math as they move on to higher levels of math in their K-12 careers and beyond.
Fear not: teachers are still using traditional approaches familiar to all of us in their math lessons but they’re also incorporating other methods to solving the same problem (such a visual approaches or using addition when talking about multiplication) so that kids can learn to approach problem-solving in more than one way. This helps to build students’ confidence.
As an Ohio high school math teacher explains in this excellent Salon.com piece:
“The goal of math classes should be to foster a deep-level understanding of the mechanisms that we teach, and that’s where compelling students to learn a variety of techniques for subtraction, for example, can allow students to approach a concept from a variety of different directions, using a variety of different tools, and tying it to other concepts they learn. This is, in a nutshell, what teaching mathematical understandings at a deep level should be doing. And this variety of approaches to build deep level understandings is exactly what the Common Core seeks to do.”
Math may look different from the way parents learned it, but teachers have a larger strategy – and telling a child that “that’s not the quickest way to get the answer,” or “that’s not the way I know,” can undermine the long-term goals of the teacher who assigned that approach for a specific reason.
The best advice we have for parents is to be reach out to your child’s teachers to check in and find out why that approach is being used. You might be surprised what you learn!
Haven’t had a chance to talk to your child’s teacher yet? Here are some fun, informative reads on this topic:
- What should parents do when they don’t understand their kids’ Common Core homework?
- You’re wrong about Common Core math: Sorry, parents, but it makes more sense than you think.
- Many parents hated Common Core math at first, before figuring it out
And here are some great content-support resources for parents looking to help their kids with homework:
Ashley Inman is the Director of Digital Media at the Collaborative for Student Success.