# A solution on how to teach math: Subtract

The Problem (**If a-b=0, and 0-0 = 0, then 0-1 = 9)**

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National panel urges streamlined courses, textbooks

by Greg Toppo

USA Today

Washington - Wondering why your child isn't learning enough math in school? Her textbook may be too thick.

In an unprecedented effort, a blueribbon panel commissioned by President Bush has been working since 2006 to find out why the math skills of U.S. students pale next to those in so many other industrialized nations. The 20 respected scholars scoured more that 16,000 research studies, heard testimony in eight cities and argued among themselves - sometimes heatedly - for nearly two years.

In the end, they found a math instruction system that's "broken and must be fixed" if the USA is to compete with established economic powers or emerging ones such as China.

In its long-awaited report, out today, the National Math Panel zeroes in on several factors:

- Children badly need both automatic recall of math facts and understanding of big concepts, in effect declawing both sides in the decades-long "math wars."
- Based on brain research, Americans should look at prowess in math less as a talent then as the result of sheet hard work.
- Schools must streamline their math courses, focusing on "a well-defined set of the most critical topics" from early elementary school through middle school. "Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided," the report says.