I sympathize with Louis C.K.’s kids; I know first-hand the intense anxiety that math assignments can provoke. But I’m certainly not sorry that they are being taught Common Core standards. As a math teacher, I have embraced these standards. I have seen kids solve problems I never would have thought to ask, then explain their thinking and justify their answers with pride. I have seen kids who used to hate the subject scribble “I love math!” all over their tests. That joy is rooted in their persistence.
That brings me to what bothered me so much about Louis C.K.’s tweets. What message was he really sending? Does he worry whether he is teaching children that they should find something to blame when school seems hard? They will face challenging assignments for the next dozen years in school, in all subjects, regardless of what standards are driving the instruction. Rather than seeking a way out, the best thing children can learn is how to help themselves.
In my freshman economics class, the final exam asked us to determine whether the statement, “In the long run, we are all dead” was true, false or uncertain. I did not choose to leave it blank. I did not choose to tweet @myprofessor about how ridiculous his question was. Rather, I chose to grapple with it as best I could and justify my answer — the correct answer was “uncertain” — and to review the test with my instructor afterward.