According to a recent article in the BBC Education News the traditional maths teaching methods of rote learning of times tables is outdated. A recent study by Prof. Richard Cowan of London’s Institute of Education offers proof that creating an artful genius will benefit their maths learning.
“In the 1920s and 1930s this was learnt by rote like a times table with children being told off for using their fingers….
… a study, which followed 259 pupils aged eight to nine at a school in Windsor, Berkshire, found that none of the children knew all these so-called number facts, even in Year 4 but some of them were still doing very well.
He said he was surprised by how few facts some of the successful young mathematicians knew.
This was contrary to the traditional view which assumed that children should learn facts before they learn the principles around them, he said.
“Understanding that in the counting sequence six is more than five – that makes you know that five plus one is six and that six minus five is one,” he added.
“Many people agree with the traditional view and think children should spend more time learning facts to become competent in arithmetic and progress in mathematics,” he said.
“This study does not support that traditional view.
“We are not saying that fact knowledge is irrelevant, just that it develops more slowly than the national curriculum allows and that this does not jeopardise children’s mathematics progress.”
What is the answer? Encouraging thinking and problem solving;
“If parents want to help their children succeed at maths, then they should encourage them to use their knowledge of principles to solve problems, not get them to memorise the answers to problems like parrots.”