18 May 2015

Explain Why 3 + 8 = 11

Why do our children have to prove they understand math by explaining it when they are unable to explain their Language Arts. If I asked my son to explain why he put a comma in a sentence, he would not even know the vocabulary to explain why.

Sentence: I went to school, and I took a test.

Explanation: When two independent clauses are connected with a coordinating conjunction, one needs to place a comma after the first independent clause and before the coordinating conjunction.

Does he know English if he can't explain it?

-- written by an activist mom on an education-related facebook page.  Used with her permission.


  1. Well I've learned something today. Now I know why a comma is put into a sentence.
    I still don't know why 3+8=11 though. The only way I could explain it is with 11 items, 3 on one side and 8 on the other, then put them together and count. Which really only proves that 3+8 is11, and doesn't explain why.

    1. And really, if you're gathering your bills together to pay the cashier, do you care why right then?

  2. Am I great at grammar? Nope. But I write fairly good-like [grin]. And should I ever go try to get officially published and all, I'd have an editor help with finding all my typos and extra commas and dangling prepositions and whatnot.

    For people who like grammar and rules and knowing the technical descriptions as to why we do things this or that way, more power to 'em. But, for me, writing is about expression and communication; we can communicate even if we don't know the official rules. In fact, that's the idea behind programs like Rosetta Stone: Stop starting with the rules and just learn the language; the rules naturally fall into place.

    I see the question behind the question as, "What do you mean by 'knowing English'?" Are we discussing his ability to speak, to construct sentences, to perfectly utilize grammar rules, or to write a textbook on the history and logic behind those rules (such as they are)?

    It'd be like asking this: Does Luke know food?

    Um... he eats it like a pro, especially ice cream. He can use chop sticks. He can cook mac 'n' cheese and make a pretty mean pb&j. He knows a bit about food groups and nutrition and calories and that bananas have potassium. He knows which restaurants he likes (and can even spell restaurant).

    All well and good, Luke. But for this test, you must be able to explain why browning butter tastes good from a chemical standpoint and the neurotransmitters involved.

    Uh... I've heard about this. Um... yeah. No idea. Don't remember.

    And this is the point where I ask, "What is the point of education? What are we trying to teach/test/determine/prepare?"

    Why does 8+3=11? Because those are the symbols we have opted to use to express the reality that combining a certain set of distinct units together is the same as if we had kept them separate.

    How's that?


    1. lol Written like a well-rounded Biola graduate! :)

      But those poor second-graders... they're asked "why" all the time in these math worksheets. Activists tend to think this is all "Common Core" math, but the truth is, this crapola has been around for a long time.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)