Tom Lehrer* was right.
As I found out last night when going over Riley's math work from class, I certainly don't do it right ... nor did I understand how the first graders were learning double digit addition. It's totally different from how I learned it over 30 years ago (though that's not saying much for my obvious lack of mathematical skills).
The way I learned to add was through a process called carrying (or regrouping). It was to add together the 'ones' place first, carrying to the 'tens' place, and then adding the 'tens' place together for the answer.
That was then, this is now ...
In new math, the kids learn addition without regrouping. They learn that each column represents a place value (namely the 'ones' and 'tens' columns). Then they learn to add each of the columns, starting with the left column (which is the 'tens' column for our purpose), and ending with the 'ones'. Then they add the columns together to get their final answer.
Here is a visual of what this old math and new math looks like...
These two-digit addition problems are very new to her. They just learned them yesterday in class (or at least it was the first time I had heard of it). When she was showing us the above problem last night she actually got a bit confused, wasn't sure how to add the numbers up the way she 'learned' it from her teacher, and ended up melting down and throwing a nice sized tantrum. Over not-getting-it-right. Oh the drama. Not knowing that her way and my way of adding weren't the same, she threw an even bigger fit when I tried to show her how to add these numbers up by carrying. As I was clearly told, I was not doing it right... aka, her teacher hung the stars, the moon, and the sky, and it's her way or the highway.
So today I went in to Riley's class and sheepishly asked her teacher to show me how to add the above problem her way. I needed to know how to do it "right" ... so that I could help her in the future with her math homework.
The funny part? Knowing that in a few weeks when they start subtraction without regrouping, I'll be heading right back to her classroom, asking the first grade teacher to show me how to do it.
I just await the day that we have to Skype with my dad for math tutoring, as my abilities end with multiplication and division. And Matt's? Well, he's still counting the above problem on his fingers and toes ...
If you're familiar with Tom Lehrer, you'll recognize his catchy New Math song ... a favorite of mine growing up!