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post #21 of 118
8/2/07 at 2:23pm
Ugh.. Please do your daughter a favor and teach her multiplication tables... As a 6th grade math teacher, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have kids spending time counting by 6 to get to 42 :
I took classroom time to do it in middle school, and I personally think it is a ridiculous thing to have to do. They should have learned it in 3rd grade, right after they learned what multiplication means and how it works. This should not be happening! 
another teacher here
Please make her learn them! The argument for not teaching them at my school is that we have so much content to teach that we shouldn't "waste time" on memorization. They ask parents to work on them at home. All future math builds on this! Argh. Pet peeve, can you tell? 
I have never ever been able to memorize my multiplication tables. Oh sure I MIGHT have been able to manage it for a test.. then it just fell out of my head later. I can't spell either. Same thing.

No kidding! Isn't one of the virtues of school supposed to be that they teach children the fundamental bases of the knowledge they will use? Isn't the role of the parent supposed to be to reinforce those knowledge bases, provide support and time in which homework can be done, work as a partner with their child's teacher, et cetera, but not have to be compelled to fill in a crucial gap the school is not addressing?
SO not fair. 
Well, whatever. I figure a teacher's competitive advantage is going to be in teaching concepts and getting a kid to really understand how, as in this example, math WORKS. If you'd rather they skimp on concepts in favor of spending time on rote memorization, so that you can get out of any teaching function at home ... I guess that's OK for you. But don't complain when your kid ends up not really understanding the concepts behind the basic facts he or she has memorized.
School time is finite. So is parent time  but it's a lot easier to coach a kid through a bit of rote memorization than it is to get them to learn the concepts underpinning arithmatic (and higher level maths as well, of course). 
If you'd rather they skimp on concepts in favor of spending time on rote memorization, so that you can get out of any teaching function at home ... I guess that's OK for you.

School time is finite. So is parent time  but it's a lot easier to coach a kid through a bit of rote memorization than it is to get them to learn the concepts underpinning arithmatic (and higher level maths as well, of course). 
Part of the problem is that far too many math teachers, especially at the elementary level, do NOT understand "how math works" and therefore aren't particularly adept at teaching what they don't particularly understand.
Since many of them also now do not teach rote memorization, we now have far too many students who don't know either how math works or their multiplication tables. 
I have never ever been able to memorize my multiplication tables. Oh sure I MIGHT have been able to manage it for a test.. then it just fell out of my head later. I can't spell either. Same thing.

I hope you are not suggesting that just because you struggle with spelling we should stop teaching kids how to write well, and to spell correctly?
Same goes for math... I respect people who struggle, but I don't understand the argument "I wasn't able to, so who cares if the rest of the kids are taught math facts..." 
Memorizing the times tables in third and fourth grade does not have a lasting effect on anyone I have ever meet. It is far more important that the kids know why 3X3=9 and how to get there than to simply spit out that 3X3=9.

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that we shouldn't explain to kids why math works. Beats me why it is always brought up. No one has stated here that rote memory should be one and only strategy in mathematics, and if you'd like to start a thread about the lack of understanding of math concepts in the US, where it starts and how to remedy  I'll be right there. This thread is about another kind of problem in math education.
I'm sure people can survive without memorizing time tables, but they can also survive without reading, and without knowing basics of chemistry, etc. etc. etc. If we are to strive to provide the best education possible  then at least we should cover the basics (and yes, it does include understanding of why multiplication and division works, but it also includes times tables). 
Uhhhh.. I never said or implied any such thing.
I am saying that simply making kids memorize things will not have a lasting effect. You have to teach them how to do it. I was never taught any spelling rules or tricks. We were simply given words, told the write them 5x each and were expected to be able to spell them at the end of the week. Memorizing them only worked until the next list came along. Same with math. Memorizing the times tables in third and fourth grade does not have a lasting effect on anyone I have ever meet. It is far more important that the kids know why 3X3=9 and how to get there than to simply spit out that 3X3=9. 
You are putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. I am not going to sit here and defend myself against you.
My original point being, most kids I know are never able to memorize the times tables. 
I am not saying people should not memorize the multiplication tables, what I am saying however is that in my experience, that information is not retained by most people.

I am not sure where you live, but growing up outside of US multiplication tables were a part of "common knowledge", people in other countries don't need calculators to figure out what 5 x 9 is, nor do they need to add 9 five times in their head. I find it sad that living here it is unusual for someone to be independent of technology to do basic operations, and that it is fought and defended in public schools.

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