# Mind the Math Gap

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When I visited London in the late 90s, which, by the way, seems like a lifetime away, I learned a phrase they use on the subway (or underground) every time doors open and people get on and off. The recording says, “Mind the gap!”

The gap refers to the hole between the platform and the inside of the train. It’s a small gap, but nevertheless people can get caught in it if they step a certain way, or if not people, their rolling luggage or a pet or whatever is dragging behind them on the floor.

I will have to ask my friends who live in London if they still say that on the underground. It’s very catchy, especially if you hear that seven times in the morning and seven times at night on your daily commute. I suppose one blocks it out after awhile.

When I recently read about the homeschool math gap, I remembered the London underground. But then I came back to my homeschool reality. This is some serious research and some good information to have, my dear homeschooling friends.

# Subtraction with Borrowing

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It took me three days and several methods to teach my son subtraction with borrowing. Math has never been a tough subject for him. He understands place value and trading one ten for ten ones. He just did not understand why we did all the maneuvering around.

So I backtracked and showed him some cute videos on YouTube: this, this, and this. He thought the Khan Academy’s video on the subject was too dry and boring and still did not get it. I usually scoff at the idea of Sesame Street style teaching, but desperate situations require desperate measures. I knew I would stoop to this level just so my kid would get it. And then we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming, to use terminology from the oft-despised world of television.

43-26 shown with dimes and pennies; 10 pennies waiting on the side to be traded for a dime.

I got online and looked at some videos on how to teach subtraction with borrowing myself. Some of them bored me to tears, but I appreciated the efforts of all these math teachers out there who took the time to offer this online for free. Thank you.

In the process, I learned that borrowing is considered antiquated now as a term. We now say “regrouping.” Both terms are incomplete, in my book, because the operation involves borrowing first and then regrouping.

I also learned that Common Core advocates call this “granny math.” The way to do subtraction with regrouping under Common Core Standards is to count up to the nearest number that ends in a 0 or a 5, like giving change. Excuse me?

If that’s not a way to create a generation of dummies which can be easily controlled and manipulated by a technocratic state, I don’t know what is. What’s wrong with the old way? It teaches children to think. Ironically, Common Core advocates state the opposite. They claim their way of doing math is the way to get a child to think. I disagree. Continue reading »