Jason wrote a

great post on the K-5 math standards, over at Number Warrior. My response:

I haven’t been willing to comment on these, because it’s just too big for me to wrap my head around. And I’m convinced that different kids need to do their learning on different timetables.

But I like what you’ve given me here.

I don't like the idea of standards. People I respect do. I feel strongly that we need to find our own solutions, locally, to our problems. Good ideas can spread online. I want students and teachers to have more power over their own classroom lives (extreme democracy).

Also, even if we think of the standards as guidelines, there are so many places where disagreement will happen - where perhaps no one has the One Right Answer. Jason points out the multiplication-as-repeated-addition controversy, but there are plenty of others.

Today I noticed one topic I'd move earlier (if I were writing the standard guidelines) and another I'd move later. We focus too much on 'addition facts' and 'multiplication facts', when kids might learn those much more easily if we waited a few more years (a la Benezet). If you

*are* working on your multiplication facts, Maria D pointed out an interesting

video some kids might like.

On the other hand, if you're having fun, why not introduce some of the squirrely topics earlier, so kids get lots of playful exposure before they have to worry about all the complexities? On Living Math Forum, someone asked about resources for negative numbers. My favorite was the card

game Denise has on her blog. (I sent both these links along to the teachers at my son's school, and they get to decide for themselves whether to use them, and with which kids.)

Writing good standards would require:

1-Treating them as guidelines, not rules,

2- A clearer understanding of child development than most people have,

3- A deep understanding of mathematics, including a deep understanding of elementary mathematics, and how it's learned.

After 20 plus years of teaching, I'm still not ready for that challenge. I don't think many people are, regardless of whether they claim to be.

Teachers who have the freedom to make their own curricular decisions might find some good thoughts on what kids are ready for at different ages in Patricia Kenschaft's book,

*Math Power: How to Help Your Child Love Math, Even If You Don't*.

Looking forward to reading other people's thoughts on all this...