Times Tables

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Image taken from wikimedia.org

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has stated that he thinks primary schools should start every maths lesson with a times table memory session in order to ensure children master “instant recall” by the age of 9.
He has enlisted the help of 30 Shanghai teachers to help improve the standards of maths using this chinese-style “fluency sessions & times tables tests”.

According to Nick “Britain is falling behind the best in the world at mathematics” & this is his solution.

This sounds all well & good until you look more closely.

When I was at primary school my maths lessons often started this way & in fact I was quite good at the memory tests because we did them almost everyday. However, once I started secondary school & stopped these memory tests I lost my “instant recall”.
Which leads me to ask would it not be better to teach children the maths rather than make them memorise the answers?

I was never that confident in my ability at maths as a child & I still feel this way as an adult.
I don’t like numbers & was always much more comfortable in an english class so maybe I am not the best example.

However it strikes me that all the while you are at school you are taught what is required to make the school figures look good, not what you actually require in life to get by.
In this case Nick Gibb wants children to memorise their times tables which doesn’t make sure children understand the answers. Knowing them by heart doesn’t increase a child’s maths skill it just gives the illusion they know the answer.

I don’t have a problem with encouraging children to know their tables off by heart but teachers need to make sure that children actually understand the maths they are being taught instead of just reciting it back to them.



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