math-common-core-dyslexiaThere are a lot of problems with Common Core Math and Dyslexia, but here’s one (and it’s a big one to talk about – the requirement to show work as part of math problem solving.

From Education News: “…the amount of work required for explanation turns a straightforward problem into a long managerial task that is concerned more with pedagogy than with content. While drawing diagrams or pictures may help some students learn how to solve problems, for others it is unnecessary and tedious.” – Barry Garelick, Education News

If the task is tedious for non-dyslexic students, it may be physically impossible for some and perhaps even a majority of age-matched dyslexic ones. The unfortunate fact today, too, is that the average classroom teacher has little or no training in dyslexia, so they won’t know how to accommodate their dyslexic students to new Common Core demands, let alone target their instruction specifically to how these students learn best.

From the article, see an example of a student trying to meet the requirement to meet “mathematical understanding” in the following question:

Question: A coat has been reduced by 20% to sell for $160. What was the original price for the coat?

Math Common Core Word Problems DyslexiaLook at what one student wrote.  She is trying to parrot back the steps, but without any added value or understanding. Adding the “show your work” to every problem not only burdens vulnerable students, but it also can hold them back and impair their mathematical learning.

Many dyslexic students prefer learning by visual patterns and math manipulatives rather than ordered lists of math procedures.

The irony of this terrible situation being created for dyslexic students is that there are many career mathematicians who problem solve primarily visually or spatially and definitely not verbally (some of them also dyslexic). So the Common Core idea, although it may have some usefulness in promoting understanding, can also hold back students who otherwise might be good high level mathematical thinkers.

From  famous mathematician Jacques Hadamard, “I insist that words are totally absent from my mind when I really think…even after reading or hearing a question, every word disappears at the very moment I am beginning to think it over…I fully agree with Schopenhauer when he writes, ‘Thoughts die the moment they are embodied by words.’ ”

For more a deeper discussion of this issue as well as examples of more dyslexia-friendly math procedures, join / login as a Premium subscriber.

HT: Thanks Beth