Are you getting a little tired of other people interfering in how you teach in your classroom?
I see around the world teachers being put under greater and greater pressure to perform, as if they were mere employees or servants of the state. And I’m over it!
Most politicians have never taught a day in their lives, from what I can tell. How dare they act like teachers should somehow get more motivated to achieve higher results, for the good of the nation?
Now, of course the curriculum is important, as I say in the video. But bureaucrats and nit-pickers seem to think that teachers need to stop being so opinionated, and just accept that they are there to do the will of their masters. Arrggghhhh!!! What doctor, engineer or lawyer would accept such treatment?
So let’s stand up for professional autonomy in our classrooms, go out and do an outstandingly excellent job, for our students, their families, and of course our nations.
Teach times tables to children in grades K-6: this is arguably one of the most important jobs a K-6 teacher has.
Why Teach Times Tables? Surely Calculators Make Memorization Redundant?
This sounds a little plausible, but I encourage you to stop and imagine this scenario: first, you have to imagine that you’re a child, around 10 years old. You haven’t had the experiences that your future adult self will have. You’ve been told by teachers that you don’t have to learn math facts by heart. You have a calculator in your desk, and you are encouraged to use it.
Now, picture this: you are working out the perimeter of a 6 by 8 rectangle using the formula “P = 2x(L + W)”.
Imagine This: You are a Child Whose Teachers Did Not Teach Times Tables
You remember you should add the length and width first, but you don’t know what six plus eight equals, since you never learned the addition facts by heart either. You look around in your desk and find the calculator, switch it on, look at the question again, press “8”, “+”, “6”, “=” and see “14” in the display. “What does that mean?” you think. Oh yes, that’s what “L + W” equals. Somehow you figure out the next step is to multiply 2 by the number you just found. You pick up the calculator, press “2”, “x”, then ask “What do I times this by?”.
You have forgotten the answer and you didn’t write it down, so you start again: “8”, “+”, “6”, “=”. This time you take note of the answer, “14”. You look back at the formula again, and press “2”, “x”, recall the previous answer again, “1”, “4”, “=”, and see the display shows “28”. You quickly write “28” in the space for the answer and move on to the next question. Oh look, it’s another perimeter question – it will be quicker this time, because you know the sequence of steps you have to take.
This is what happens if no-one takes the time to teach times tables. Notice that not only does this imaginary child take much longer to complete this simple question than it would have been if tables were memorized, the child is repeatedly interrupted in working through the question to carry out mechanical actions, mostly the pressing of calculator buttons, with little or no thought of why he or she is carrying out the process in the first place.
I promise you this: from today onward, I will not apologize for expecting students to memorize the times tables.
I’ve had enough. Students who don’t know the multiplication facts by heart will not achieve much success, if any, in their future math studies. So why don’t we do more to get our students to memorize facts?
Teach Times Tables: A True But Sad Story
In the video: The experience I had recently watching Year 5 kids trying to do a multiplication test without knowing the times tables illustrated this perfectly for me.
Students simply had no idea of the times tables, and so most of them resorted to drawing arrays of dots and then counting the dots from 1. Of course, this was much too slow, and in addition students frequently made mistakes.