I’m growing more and more disappointed with math education in the US. I’ve heard many neighbors complain about the Everyday Math curriculum in our local elementary school. I won’t go into that in too much detail, but we have concerns.

My current frustration is with what I’m seeing in some kids I know. When I encounter young people in my neighborhood or at family gatherings, I like to challenge their math. As you can imagine, this does not make me popular with them.

Here’s a rough summary of a conversation I had the other day with a 14-year-old who gets very good grades in math:

Q: What’s 25 squared?

A: 50

Q: No, 25 times 25.

A: I don’t know.

Q: Well, what’s 20 times 20?

A: Um … 40?

Q: No, not 20 plus 20, 20 times 20?

A: Oh … um … 200?

Q: Try again.

A: Oh .. 400.

Q: Okay, now what’s 30 times 30?

A: 600?

Q: What’s 3 times 3?

A: 9

Q: So …

A: Oh, 900

Q: Good. So guess what 25 times 25 is.

A: 1200?

Q: No, 20 times 20 is 400 and 30 times 30 is 900, then 25 times 25 has

to be between 400 and 900, right?

A: Oh … um … 500?

It seems to me that a 14-year-old should know 25 squared without thinking about it. And if not, they should be able to figure it out quickly. You know, 25 times 20 is 500, and 5 times 25 is 125, so … 625.

On the bright side, I’ve had similar conversations with a 9-year-old and he did better.

Makes me worry for America’s future. It also might explain some of our financial problems.