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First-Grade "New Math" Question Stumps the Internet—Can You Solve It?

One Texas mom has parents scratching their heads with her recent Facebook post.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Well, right now, a lot of people are finding out that they may not even be smarter than a first grader. A Texas mom recently took to Facebook to share a math question that was given to her child as part of their first-grade homework, and it has left the entire internet stumped.

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On Feb. 2, Tiesha Sanders shared a photo on Facebook that showed how her daughter's answer to one of her homework questions had been marked incorrect by the teacher.

For the math problem, students were instructed to "Fill in the missing numbers." They were given the number "27" and asked to fill out a table that indicated how many tens and ones there were in the number. Sanders' daughter wrote "2" in the tens column and "7" in the ones column.

The final part of the question prompted her to write how many ones there were, so she wrote "7" again.

But this was not the right answer, according to her teacher. So Sanders sent the homework back in with a note asking for an explanation.

"Hello! I just wanted to ask how Summer got #3 wrong? Her father and I were going over her mistake and wanted to be sure we were on the right track," she wrote.

The teacher responded, explaining that the correct answer was actually "27" ones. "Hello, this is the new math they have us teaching," the first-grade teacher wrote to Sanders. "It wants her to know that having 2 tens and 7 ones is the same as 27 ones."

facebook math question
Copyright Tiesha Sanders / Facebook

In her Facebook post, Sanders expressed her frustration with the response: "The new math is NOT IT!"

She also clarified that she wasn't frustrated with her daughter's teacher. "Disclaimer: I am not upset with the teacher, she's jut teaching what she's supposed to," Sanders wrote. "[And] don't come here like we're the dumb ones, I taught elementary for the last six years, this question ain't it!"

But the Texas mom is not the only one questioning the "new math" that is being taught in U.S. schools. Her Facebook post has gone viral, garnering over 18,000 shares and more than 4,700 comments. In the comment section, many people shared Sanders' frustration over the math question.

"Ummm, maybe I'm not too smart because I'm with Summer," one person wrote. Another replied, "This made me scratch my head I don't know how many times."

Several teachers even spoke out in the comment section about the "new math" they're having to teach students. "I hate teaching it! I be just as confused as the parents," one person wrote. Another responded, "Me too! And I teach math!"

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But not everyone is against this new way of teaching. Some people said the question was "simple," and others argued that this method actually helps children better understand math overall.

"I always explain to teacher and parents that when we learned math it was 'this is how you do it' and you memorize steps to get to the answer, where as now kids are learning why it works, and through that conceptual understanding, they will learn how on their own and it will stick," one person replied.

Kate Sanai, a mother of five and a math educator for 19 years, said she was glad Sanders posted the first-grade math question to "bring awareness to the conceptual teaching process" educators are now pushing to students.

"But it's definitely a mindset shift for many parents—mainly due to how we were taught math," Sanai wrote. "I'm an '80s baby, so we were taught many math tricks and rules to follow, and very little conceptual thinking."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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