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New Math Does Not Work With Old Brains!

Last night at about midnight I laid in bed blogging from my phone because I was so frustrated at the fact that my son has lost recess again in school.  So frustrated I was that I hardly got any sleep last night, and have been up with my mind spinning since 6 am this morning.

Earlier this week, which I had not had the time to tell you all about, the little man lost his ice-cream purchasing privileges (something that you lose if your behavior color changes) because he turned in his homework assignment, but did it incorrectly. The teacher said that he failed to show his work.

Now let me first say that I read his homework (Math) sheet instructions and no-where on there did it specific to show work, nor did it explain “how” to show said work.  I have a lot of difficulty interpreting instructions that are confusing, incomplete, and as non-explicit as these ones are, as does the little man.

The Little Man told me that he was supposed to draw the “arrays” on the worksheet, which did not sound right to me. Drawing four rows of 29 boxes to represent 29 x 4 on a small worksheet filled with such examples did not make much sense to me. I argued that it could not possibly be what the teacher meant for him to do.  He insisted it was!

The little man turned in his homework assignment with just the answers written in the boxes, apparently he had done the math in his head. (a lot like Mom, huh?) When he came home the next day and told me he lost ice-cream, and lost recess, because he did his homework wrong I was livid!  I wrote a note asking his teacher if that is what he lost his privileges for because many times it is for other reasons and the little man misunderstands WHY he is being punished (another issues that I am trying to explain to the school). My note was not answered.

I attached a note to the worksheet that the teacher wrote “show your work” on (different teacher than his homeroom teacher) and asked her to clarify “show your work.” I explained what Matthew thought that was supposed to be done, and how I had told him that it could not be correct.  I then told her that the only way I knew how to show the work was in the traditional way—not with these arrays—or whatever needed to be done.  I asked her to “please clarify” what needs to be done on this worksheet.

The reply I received basically said that my son likes to take shortcuts, and does not listen well to instructions!

I might add that she never did clarify what the hell was supposed to be done.  Apparently, I was partially correct. The little man misinterpreted the directions AGAIN, he did not have to draw those arrays.  He did have to show his work though, and the way you show your work for 29 x 4 is:  20 x 4 = 80 and 9 x 4 = 36, then add 80 + 36 = 116 .  This is the NEW Math that the schools here are teaching, it is no wonder Aspie Teen still have difficulty doing multiplication examples because in Middle and High School, you cannot do the examples this way!

New Math does not work on Old Brains!

I would not have guessed in a million years that this was the way to do this math sheet, and the instructions sure didn’t say so—AND the teacher won’t even clarify to me I can’t imagine he was very helpful in clarifying the work to my son. In fact, as you can tell from the note she sees him a lazy kid who doesn’t listen!

So my question is still, should he lose recess because he did his math homework wrong?  Especially when he had difficulty understand instructions, and often misinterprets the reasons for his “punishments?” What if he flat out doesn’t listen? Or, if he doesn’t do his homework at all?  My thought is that there is no reason or motivation to do homework at all if you get punished for making mistakes!

So I am back to the privilege vs. right to recess issues…its consuming my brain today. Time to see what the State of SC has to say about the issue.

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.