Musings and Amusings

This Doesn’t Add Up!

Hub and I sat down last night to help Sparks (5th grade) with his homework.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

Sparks gave us an hour lesson in New Math, during which my thinking cap was knocked so askew I had to lie down for an hour. In New Math, that adds up to 1½ hours of no one learning any New Math.

We recovered by having some pie.


Apparently 98% of our population in any given year doesn’t grasp how to add, subtract or multiply numbers by columns. Neither do we know how to divide numbers using this cool Boomer doodle pattern:


That’s the only reason I like long division – that rockin’ doodle pattern!

Don’t worry, there are doodle patterns in New Math; just not that obsolete Boomer pattern.

In New Math, the doodle pattern is 100% addition.

That’s right. Subtraction, multiplication and division are each distilled down to addition. Specifically addition of tens. See how this problem starts out as subtraction but quickly morphs into addition?


In addition, Plus Also, horizontal processing has replaced vertical calculations.

For instance this kind of problem:


Now looks like …

new math

The gist is 72 and 39 are broken down into tens and reconfigured into completely new numbers spread out across that doodle-y horizontal line. The new numbers are then … … ok, I have no idea how to proceed, but I’m 97% certain there’s a subsequent calculation requiring an additional doodle.

new math doodle

Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

Call me doodle-brained, but New Math looks like it’s taking us down a slippery slope to a nation of … well … doodlers, not mathematicians!

Nevertheless, I’m encouraging Sparks to stick with New Math. I’m counting on him to calculate answers to some mathematical problems that have long plagued my musing mind:

  1. How is it that my nieces and nephews are approaching age 40 when I’m barely one face-wrinkle past 39 myself?
  2. How is it that my youngest brother, who I invariably describe as age 22, is actually – when I doodle it out – 57?
  3. Why can audiologists fine tune Hub’s hearing aids with eight different programs so he can HEAR, but not a single calibration will entice him to LISTEN?
  4. How can we successfully land a space explorer on a comet after traveling a cumulative four billion miles, but my cable provider cannot accurately sync my ‘automatic recording option’ with the actual start time of my shows?
  5. How can we bask in 70 degree sunshine at 10am; shiver in 29 degree snow flurries at 10:30am; and shovel two feet of snow in single digit temperatures 24 hours later? What is a Polar Vortex anyway? It sounds like something out of the Hunger Games (which I pray is not New World repercussions from the New Math Doodling curriculum).

When I was an auditor, I had a client who developed his own catch-all math response to my intrusive audit inquisition – probing for the truth about sales, inventory, expenses and profit.

Me: “Hey Sam, I’m looking at your inventory records stating the number of new and used cars you have on the lot, but my actual count is … well, it’s just not adding up.”

Sam (grabbing inventory sheet and his eraser): “What number would you like it to be?”

Sam didn’t need New Math OR a doodle to calculate that!


Source of graphics and photos: Google Images


Comments on: "This Doesn’t Add Up!" (56)

  1. Yikes Sammy D, my brain went into free fall a moment ago and I’m not sure it will recover. What I want to know is the mathematical evaluation of a chocolate muffin for breakfast. If I have it in the morning with my cappuccino coffee with loads of full cream, will this enhance my brain power and to what degree?
    Sparks will surely work out your earth shattering questions .. please let us know the answers soonest.
    Have a great weekend. 🙂

    • LOL I’m going to be at Sparks for sleepover tonight . I will take chocolate muffins and cream so we can work on your troublesome problem. It might take a dozen or two muffins before we resolve the question,but never fear, we’re on it!

  2. lol! I’ll never grasp that new way of doing long division not will I ever learn why men can’t listen. Although I once read an article about women’s voices being a certain frequency that men don’t pick up easily – it was written by a man though!

    Awesome posts, love the doodles 😉

  3. runciblegoosegoose said:

    What the what? No only do I have to learn “computers” I also have to relearn math?! What is this? When are kids going to get to the point where they can just raise themselves, are were there yet? Can we just get there?

    Sammy, I think I’m scared of anyone born after 2003, they are automatically smarter than I am. Did you feel that way about us? (I ask in COMPLETE jest).

    • :-). no worries about the new math – by the time you have to help J & Em with their homewrk there will, no doubt, be a Newer New Math or else my prophesy about a nation of doodlers will make it a non issue. I suggest you commence doodling posthaste 🙂 do Brits use that word? Posthaste? Maybe it’s two words!
      The time I knew FOR SURE you are smarter than I is when you said ‘yes’ to the intrepid Mr. V😍

  4. Well, if he solves your list of questions, please let us know. I’d like the answer to #5 myself. Argh. I’m not happy about snow in November…

    • Carrie – I fear we’re looking at a very long Dec and Jan, but we’re due because we escaped all the awful weather lasy year. I feel bad for y’all who have gotten nipped several winters in a row.

  5. Great and funny story. As for question #3, yeah, that’s not going to happen.

    I would have always solved that first problem by adding 11 and 460 – and I was often yelled at for not “doing it right.” I both like and DO NOT like this approach. I like that it starts to show children that there are often alternate ways to solve a problem than the more difficult “standard” way. I don’t like that it’s introducing a new “standard” way that is moving us toward a kind of thinking that is more like the machines we use to avoid ever actually doing math.

    I like the man’s answer to your inventory question – that’s my kind of response. Once, we had written a system that, due to many complex division operations, didn’t end with the zero balance the auditors wanted to see. I tried to explain rounding errors but got nowhere. I rewrote the code to calculate the rounding errors and just add (or subtract) it to/from the largest account.

    Hmm, I think this time, you are promoting my future blog posts – thanks for a great read. And please, keep the vortex on your side of the Mississippi this year.

    • Hub told me (while we were refueling with pie) that he’s always added as you do in your second paragraph. Now I have deduced there is a high correlation between older men using New Math and their lack of listening to their wives.

      Your rounding ‘fix’ sounds like a perfect solution. Once I became CFO for venture capital firm and was on the ‘other side’ of the audits, I would purposely make a ‘material’ error in my yearend financials so the auditors would have their ‘big find’ to correct. Usually that was enough to keep ’em from bugging me on all the rest of the audit tests 😊

      It’s most likely our due for a harsh winter since we escaped the awful weather everyone else endured last year. Be brave, Mima!

      • You’re making me laugh. I’m in good company with your hub. Solidarity! When I was a consultant, my best friend taught me to always make three grammatical errors (easy for me) in a draft report so our partner “can apply some red ink”. Humans are funny.

      • Now there’s an infinity’s worth of posts – the quirks of human nature .

        Love the ‘red ink’ diversion!

  6. cardamone5 said:

    OMG: Funny, from laying down to pie to being 30 whatever to your client’s response. Just hilarious, and SO true. Love you, MOm.


    PS: I am eternally 28.

  7. Ermergherd. The New Math is giving me a headache. The rest of the post is giving me a giggle. That being said, is it too early for a martini? I’ll even take a New Martini!

  8. That was wayyyy too complicated for me haha oh my did you eat something odd or get abducted by aliens lol x

  9. Sammy, it’s Friday, and my brain simply revolts against math of any kind. Especially after spending the better part of the week trying to help my son (also a fifth grader) navigate decimals and such. Meaning I had to spend some time re-learning the whole blasted thing, so I can help him. And this is only fifth grade? I told my son: please pay extra attention, learn this stuff and come home and teach me so I can help you. He rolled his eyes, of course.
    Give me history, geography, language arts any day, but keep me away from math. 🙂 Loved the post!

  10. Wow. I am terrible at math at the best of times, so it’s really, REALLY good that I don’t have any kids or grandkids depending on me to help them!

    • LOL I had no idea it had changed so much 😍

    • Yeah, it’s been a humbling experience for me 💥 i had no idea I’d have to learn math all over again. Hope you’re doing well, Laurel.

      • I am – thank you! Just trying to get back into the swing of blog reading, so am a bit behind on what’s going on in everyone’s life. Glad to catch up with you again. 🙂

      • It is so hard to keep up because we start accumulating so many bloggers we want to follow 🙂 i always read yours even if I don’t comment, but you have no like button to let you know I was there!! Still, i do enjoy your postings – especially prompting me to think of all I have to be grateful for.

      • That’s exactly it! And then life gets in the way, and you get behind, and the whole thing becomes overwhelming! But I’m going to do my very best to stay on top of things from hereon in. *fingers crossed*

        Funny, I thought I DID have a like button at the bottom of each post… I’ll have to check that out and see if something went wrong!

      • You DO – geez. See comment I left on your post 💖

  11. I tried new math. Blech. My mom taught me math and it stuck. This is one funny post!

  12. ?????????? okay! quite amazing… didn’t get the hang of it… O_o
    I certainly need some chocolate now. Lots of chocolate.

    I’ll keep on calculate in the old-fashioned way, even though I recognize this new way being almost the same way I often use to roughly estimate calculations (in the mind) when for example buying food. I’m too old to change now.
    By the way! My dad told me to use these estimated calculations long time ago while I still was very young.

    • Multiply that chocolate by 3 and that equals …. Well.0, a lot MORE chocolate 🙂

      Yes, the main thing is inderstanding whether the answer makes sense! Your
      Harry Styles, Erin Foster

      Your Dad had the right idea – does it make sense is the question we should be focused on, not which method is the best!

      Multiply that chocolate by 3 and I’ll join you!

      • Oh he taught me a lot! Not eating a lot of chocolate, though. I learnt that all by myself! XD

        No off course the method isn’t the most important. Understanding and getting a correct answer is. And an answer that fits what you need. Not necessary the answer you want.

        I get chocolate and you beem over! 😉

    • Well you can see by that comment my I-pad isn’t cooperating! I have no idea where that Harry Styles insert came from! Something doesn’t add up!!!

  13. Ha! You were an auditor- that explains a lot! I was a dunce 🙂 (especially when it came to maths and physics)

    • LOL. BUT I can’t add in my head to save my soul !! I’m so bad at it, I’m always saying, “don’t tell anyone I’m an accountant!!”

      • Old math made some sort of sense to me, on a good day. I’m just glad I’m too old for New math. It would never have worked as a partnership 🙂

  14. So funny! I’m actually relieved to see that at least they’re not skipping math entirely in favor of calculators!

  15. I’m sorry, but I don’t see what was wrong with the “old” math. They tried teaching my kids this new math in school but only succeeded in confusing the heck out of them. I said forget what they’re showing you and just do it this way and showed them how I learned. I told them if the teachers had a problem with it they could talk to me. My son told me later that when he tried to do the math problems their way he got them wrong every time, but when he did it the way I showed him, he got them right. I wish they would stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Yes, I get that not all kids learn the same way, but it’s getting ridiculous. Sorry, sore point with me.

    • I know, Lori. I made light of it, but I’m appalled at almost everything having to do with public schools. They are institutions of political fighting and union money, neither of which serves our kids or good teachers. Thanks for weighing in with your real time experience.

      • I agree. One of the reasons the “new” math is such a sore point with me is that my daughter has always had a really hard time with math. It is her most difficult subject, and the new math just made it ten times harder for her. I’d like to give whoever invented it a piece of my mind.

  16. Oh my, maths has changed a lot and I left school in this millenium! Seems like they’re over complicating things a little with this new math – I mean I’m sure whoever invented New Math knows what they’re on about but this seems counterintuitive to me. Without the help of a pen and paper New Math is going to be pretty hard to do, and mental arithmetic does come in handy!
    That brings me back to math problems at school, you know the ‘if you have a bath tub with a leak, and a drippy faucet. The faucet drips water at a rate of X per minute and the bath tub leaks water at a rate of Y per minute, how long will it take for you to get frustrated and walk out?’ kind of problem 😉

  17. Wow – there is so much in here to comment on. Is that how they are teaching math now?!
    I understand it, but the question is why? Is it just me or did they just make it more work?

  18. This kinda stuff is why I couldn’t do my kids’ third grade math. I still get hung up sometimes, even though I’ve learned quite a bit. I just text my son (21) and ask him what the transitive property of blah blah blah is.
    I don’t like math, and I hardly think we need more ways to do it. Just makes it complicated to me.

    • I’m with you!

      I’ve researched enough to suspect that much of this is $$$-driven by the fed gov’t and the scholastic corporations who ‘supply’ the teacher training and lesson materials. They all have a self-interest in staying employed and garnering increased revenue (taxes) or sales.

      ‘Follow the money’ is wise in any federal gov’t program.

      Thanks for reading, Joey!

  19. Yikes! I was a fifth grade teacher before leaving to have my son. I left just before New Math was introduced. I might have to go back to school to learn New Math before I’ll be able to teach it! (And I hope in the process of teaching me they also explain why New Math is superior to Old Math – so curious!)

    • My daughter-in-law and 5th grade grandson like it and say it makes more sense to them. To me it just seems like a different, but not superior, way. I often wonder if all the ‘new’ stuff isn’t just a way to keep lots of administrators, text authors and supply companies gainfully employed!!

      Thanks for reading!

  20. […] of good bike rides, a few rounds of decent golf and repeated handfuls of chocolate – even using New Math, that adds up to a well-rounded, highly satisfying […]

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