And speaking of asking kids to do something they haven't been taught, "critical thinking" problems are a regular part of the text. Those problems are much like the ones we'd see in a book of brainteasers. Here's one:
Work with a partner. [Good idea, especially if your partner is an adult who knows how to do problems like this.] Arrange the digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 into two decimals so that their sum is as close to 1 as possible. Use each digit only once. The sum cannot be equal to or greater than 1.They [also] have these "critical thinking" problems along the lines:
Jane is 7 years older than her brother, and the sum of their ages, plus 5, multiplied by 4, is the age of their house. How old is everyone and everything?The people who author these books are the same ones who look back derisively at my mathematics education because we had to figure out when a couple of trains, leaving opposite coasts and going different speeds, would meet up. The problem wasn't all that authentic, but I think the algebra for solving it was. I have nothing against the "Jane is 7 years ..." problem per se. If you've taught the algebra for solving ... just about anything ... then no problem. But in my daughter's text, "critical thinking" means "something relatively difficult to do that we haven't taught anyone how to do, mostly because we don'’t know how to do that."