Saturday, 3 April 2010


Someone posted a link to this article, “When Less is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in Schools”, which says that children learn mathematics better when arithmetic is not taught until sixth grade. When this was trialled in schools, by the end of sixth grade, children who had never been taught arithmetic until the start of that year did much better than children who had been taught since kindergarten.

You can read the full article here

It seems that perhaps the Australian Government caught wind of this concept when writing up the new National Curriculum, but it looks like they didn’t read past the title, leading them to come up with the fantastic idea of teaching multiplication only in the fourth grade, and leaving out 7x7 entirely from the curriculum.

Here’s an excerpt:

One thing we learned is that the expression "times tables" is forbidden. In its place there is continual reference to "multiplication facts". For example, one of the goals is for year 4 students to:

Understand and become fluent with multiplication facts and related division facts of 2, 3, 5, and 10 extending to 4, 6, 8, and 9.

Ignoring the fact that this sentence is ungrammatical and clumsy, we were puzzled by the curious exclusion of the number 7. Pondering it, this exclusion appears curiouser and curiouser.

The plan is for year 4 students to be able to multiply by 1 (presumably), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. So they will also know 1 x 7, and 2 x 7, and so on? Then, all that will be missing is a single maligned multiplication, poor old 7 x 7.

For the full article, look here

I look at Littletree and dread the thought that she might end up in a school, where she will be taught to hate mathematics, and be expected to wait till she’s 9 (grade four) to learn her times tables. Well, all except 7x7=49.

At home, I know she’s thirsty for learning. I know she’s fascinated with arithmetic, she does some random acts of addition and multiplication several times each day. She’s fascinated with astronomy and geology and biology – subjects she might never learn in 12 years of school. I know I did next to nothing from those subjects in my schooling career.

I imagine the new National Curriculum will result in a lot more homeschooled Australians.

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Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)