How Common Core's 'One Easy Trick' Philosophy Fails Children

There is a scene in one of Heinlein's books [Ed. Starship Troopers] in which the teacher asks the student if he'd be happy just getting the medal for a race he didn't win. The student is rightly outraged and thinks it makes a mockery of the proceedings.

It wasn't until last week when I found myself caught in a Facebook thread on Common Core started by my friend and colleague Larry Correia that I realized this scene must be utterly baffling to the left.

You see, my husband posted some examples of Common Core math problems.  He's a mathematician and it exasperates him when people praise Common Core for "teaching children to think."

The quote that struck me came from an article in National Review on The Ten Dumbest Common Core Problems.

In response to an obnoxious liberal, my husband posted the following analysis of the first problem in that article, and the way Common Core says it should be solved:

Okay, time for a little lesson. The Common Core "number bonds" method for teaching 7 + 7 (#1 in "Ten dumbest Common Core...") makes it quite a bit more work than the traditional way.

Toddler way:

  1. You count on your fingers
  2. You count 7, and then another 7, and get to 14, and you're done

Traditional way:

  1. You memorize a 10x10 addition table
  2. You recognize that 7+7 = 14 and you're done

Common Core "number bonds" way:

  1. You recognize that 7+7 is more than 10, but not by how much
  2. You subtract 7 from 10 to figure out that you need only 3 to get to 10
  3. You subtract 3 from 7 to figure out that you have 4 left over and change your problem into 7 + 3 + 4
  4. You use the associative property to regroup into (7 + 3) + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14

So, you take twice as many steps as finger-counting, much less the traditional way, with two of those steps requiring knowing how to subtract, and one of which using a property you didn't even know there was a name for! How exactly does that show "understanding" of the problem and "teach you to think and understand"? Or do you mean thinking in a convoluted, backward fashion and understanding the solution before you try to solve the problem?

What's the goal, precisely? To avoid memorizing addition tables? You still need to memorize subtraction tables in order to do steps 2-3 in the "number bonds" technique. How is that easier or more intuitive? Or do you think it's better because it mimics the toddler finger-counting mechanism (#2 in the link above)? You aren't going to have enough fingers to figure out how much fuel you need in a rocket to reach escape velocity, I can tell you that!