Paul's Passing Thoughts

What is Really Going On With Common Core?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 23, 2016

john immel

John Immel | March 23, 2016

I was recently asked to give my thoughts on this article  and what follows is an expanded version of my response.

After reading the article you can see that Common Core teaching methods makes hash out of mathematics and, of course, the logical question is why?  Why create a teaching method that so obviously destroys arithmetical mastery? Common Core math is so disconnected from Classical instruction it seems too bizarre to be accidental. What then is the real motive?

The Common Core glossy brochure says that the reason for its existence is to institute a national standard to measure K-12 academic success. The logic being America lags behind in education, there must be something wrong with how local schools are teaching the Three R’s, therefore the government should be in charge of how teachers are teaching which means the government should be in charge of what teachers are teaching. If the Government can measure the teachers then all will be well in American education. So the first step in making sure little Johnny can get into a good collage comes from government creating a universal standard curricula. Alakazam poof! Common Core.

(You should be very, very nervous when the federal government says it should be in charge of anything because benevolence is never the real motive.)

What then is the motive? What is the real purpose behind this “new” math?

I’m assuming you read the article so I will reference Robin’s face book post. Notice that the 3rd (or 4th ) grader answered the question correctly and then notice that the teacher gives absurd advice on how to “make” 10 from 8+5. What is the practical result to the young grade schooler?  Is this a new low in educational stupidity?  Did the Department of Education suddenly have an aggregate drop in IQ?

Some variation of this criticism—that teachers and administrators are just stupid—is often offered as the reason for the emergence of this new math. While it is true that the world is full of stupid and ignorant and otherwise naive people whenever you see an ongoing, concerted effort to impose the absurd, the irrational, the erroneous on the masses, know that the reason is never stupidity. There is always a motive; there is always a method to the madness.

In an effort to uncover the motive behind Common Core one person I talked to observed the methods behind the math would crush the student’s self confidence. That is true. Such instruction is sure to destroy the child’s self confidence but I submit that the target is not self confidence but something much more fundamental . . . something much more important.

As a philosopher I try to see the root of things, to identify the foundations of ideas, to find the concepts upon which human existence rests. So follow me in the path to identify this foundation.

Self confidence is a byproduct of competence and competence is a measure of effective action and effective action is the result of conceptual mastery and conceptual mastery is the successful grasp of Aristotle’s Law of Identity.

The average 3rd grader has never heard of Aristotle, let alone the Law of Identity but he has an implicit grasp of its meaning. From the moment he distinguished Mommy from Daddy and then distinguished chair from dog he was practicing the process of identification and conceptual integration.  And, assuming his parents affirm the value of a rational world view, he arrives in 3rd grade already very accustomed to using Aristotle’s Law of Identity.

What is the Law of Identity?

It is summed up in these three Aristotelian axioms:

Law of Identity: Whatever is  . . . is.

Law of Non Contradiction: Nothing can both be and  . . . not be.

Law of the Excluded Middle: Everything must ether be or  . . . not be.

Or said another way.

  • A = A
  • A cannot be B
  • A is unique in all particulars

These axioms are the foundation for successful identification and categorization of existence. Without this as the standard, existence does not exist and man is set adrift in a sea of his own consciousness.  Or said simply without this standard our 3rd grader can’t tell the difference between Mommy or Daddy or a dog and a chair.

So contrast Aristotle’s foundation with the teacher’s assertion that you can “make” 10 from 8 + 5.  Notice that this teacher is laying waste to the roots of the child’s conceptual faculty. And now you get a glimpse into the nefarious purpose behind Common Core math. I suspect that Common Core teachers are more like useful zealots than pedagogical Dr. Evil’s. I suspect they are Department of Education trained parrots merely trying to emulate the teaching methods learned from university professors . . . but that does not change their culpability or the underlying educational intent.

I submit that the real purpose of Common Core math is a direct assault on the Law of Identity. If A does NOT = A then A cannot equal anything. If you can really “make” 10 from 8+5 then 10, 8 and 5 have no identity nor is there a concept subtraction, addition, multiplication, or division. Indeed the arithmetic operators are not operators at all; they are not symbols denoting mental actions to be performed with the identities.

But 1 is an identity and so is 5 and so is 8. Students first grasp these identities and then build to higher level conceptual integration to concepts like 10. And then 10 soon becomes the concept 100 and then becomes the concept 1,000 and so on until a child has tools to quantify vast subsets of particulars.  So to render these concepts meaningless is to undercut conceptual integration at the root which has the practical effect of undercutting man at the root.

So the purpose of Math (of the Common Core kind) is specifically designed to elevate “making stuff up” to a science. It is designed to give academic credence to whim worship.  The “system” illustrated in the article to show how to “make” numbers is merely window dressing masquerading as Logic.

I submit that the Common Core endgame is to teach young minds that A can equal anything. And if A can equal B, or C or Z then A can be anything. A is NOT A. A is whatever conceptual abstraction one chooses to apply in the moment. Whatever lip service Common Core advocates pay to knowledge and learning they can never escape the conclusion that there is nothing to know. If A is everything then A is nothing. If A has no identity then A is infinite and the infinite has no identity. (See Aristotle’s response to Zeno)

As a brief historical aside, whenever man has concluded that there is nothing to know—because they formally rejected Aristotle and the roots of objectivity— philosophy has collapsed into skepticism. This has happened three times in the progression of human thought. And all three times civilization collapsed into barbarism and irrationality. For a lesson in what that looked like see any good history book about the dark ages.

So, returning from the commercial break, the only conceivable purpose of Common Core Math

is to unravel man’s conceptual faculty and make the world unintelligible.

Why would they do such a thing?

Very simply because Classical education—the focus on the Three R’s—was a profound global success and the source of almost unlimited human freedom because it drove back the frontiers of ignorance and almost banished the destructive power of mysticism and superstition.  Notice that in Classical education young minds are first introduced to formal logic when they start mathematics. Students learn the concept of identity 1 and 2 and 3 etc and then they learn to combine identities to form higher concepts 9 +1= 10.

(The tens place opening up a vast horizon of measuring capabilities)

Then young minds learn to sequence ideas: (2X2) + 2 = 6 thus learning how to organize thoughts in order of importance.  And then young minds learn to identify inter relating principles: For example a + b = c thus grasping that they can quantify many identities under the variables a, b and c and successfully find relationship between their sums. No matter how good a student is at arriving at the correct mathematical answer, the root lessons are logic lessons.

So now consider the “systems” of Common Core math that remove the mathematical rules and process.  Notice that Common Core “math” is really removing logic (the formal organization of concepts to create larger concepts) from education as such. This can only have one purpose: to destroy man’s capacity to reason. People “educated” to believe they can make up whatever reality they choose are mere putty in the hands of anyone demanding that 8+5= 10.

Dictators and thugs and despots the world over have always known they must first cut off Aristotle’s head before they can shackle man’s body because self-confident men will not bow to subjugation. Men and Women who can effectively grasp the world in which they live will never need a mystic despot to tell them what the world means. And as I pointed out earlier in the article the root of self confidence is really Aristotle’s laws of identity.

 So it should be no surprise that all tyrannical ideologies seek to first and foremost destroy the Law of Identity (Excluded middle, Non-contradiction) because they must first separate man from reality so they can easily separate man from his mind.

Unfortunately most anti Aristotelian ideologies present themselves as saviors of human existence (Augustine, Kant, and Berkeley et al) and therefore as saviors of people.  The glossy brochure leads people to believe that banishing existence from logic and reason is for the benefit of mankind so people never notice that the outcome is fantastically anti-human. When existence is set up as the metaphysical villain it certainly follows that any tools that help measure (or master) existence must be a direct threat, so people are seduced into accepting the premise that identities are not really real and that subjective “Making” is the highest “rational” ideal.

But there is no such thing as a, “little bit of subjectivity.”

Either existence is a self created manifestation of man’s consciousness (subjective) . . . or . . .  Man’s consciousness is the mechanism that identifies existence (objective). Either man can “make” 10 from 8+5 by the worship of his own whim . . . or . . .  existence requires that 8+5 = 13.

A is A . . . or . . .  A is nothing.

And if A is nothing how do you refute subjectivism?

How can you demand an objective standard of measure when the right answer is: there is nothing to be objective about?

Or more practically, how can you respond to a Tyrant that says individual wealth is an abuse of power and it is his moral prerogative to seize your money?

You say: “I made my money by hard work.” He says: “You stole your money by an abuse of power.”

You say:” 8+5 = 13.”

He says: “Make 10 from 8+5.”

In the end it is all semantics: You say tomato he says toomaato but he has the guns so the correct answer is “8+5 = 10” and while you’re at it give him your money, give him your life because the tyrant already has your brain.

 And this is exactly the point.

I suspect that the powers behind this body of education (those few intellectuals behind the educational curtain driving and shaping the curricula) know that one of the things that have prevented a Western culture from total collapse into the dark ages of subjectivism has been mathematics. Since so many people in the world have been taught the rudiments of logic via mathematics — and introduced to Newtonian mechanics and more fundamentally Aristotle’s Law of Identity through math—Western civilization maintains a (tenuous) commitment to logic and reason. Or said simply: Western culture is reluctant to abandon the idea that words mean things.

But if the Federal government can create a monopoly on education and then educate an entire generation that words don’t mean anything: Symbols don’t mean things. Ideas don’t mean things and therefore anything can mean anything  . . . which means that everything means nothing. . .

 . . . Totalitarians know if they can destroy the minds of your children they will own the world.

John Immel


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One Response

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  1. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on March 28, 2016 at 8:45 AM

    There is some hope for our society. There are still some kids out there who still think, like the student in this example:

    I am impressed that this student came to a logical conclusion and was able to come up with a reasonable answer despite the poorly worded question or the possible incompetence of the teacher.


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