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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    Once again, I'll repeat the points I've already said many times before. Just because it might be useful for the odd occasion doesn't mean that you need to dedicate most of primary school mathematics towards it. It is completely pointless and gives a totally false representation of (and a terrible introduction to) mathematics.
    I think the thing is your experience is different from most people. For me, I never thought times tables were a bad intro to maths.

    You also mentioned that schools would dedicate all their time to it, however I don't think they will, most people will be able to teach their students the times tables pretty quickly. Sure some students might have trouble but that can be solved individually.

    Broadly, i'm sure 90% of the population supports this. When you meet someone who can't do basic math properly you do facepalm a bit.
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    I absolutely agree, memorising these results doesn't even make you good at arithmetic let alone mathematics on the whole.


    In fact, the time could be better devoted to developing mathematical thinking, say, by introducing basic algebra.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    That's not at all why I disagree with it, did you even read what I wrote? I am not saying that it's fine for people to be mathematically illiterate. I am saying that I think it is a complete waste of time dedicating everyone's primary school maths education to making them fast at times table recall. I completely understand the convenience of being able to do it quickly. That doesn't mean it's worth alienating a whole hoard of children by cramming random numbers down their throat when they're supposed to be doing mathematics. It's just as bizarre as expecting everyone to memorise a Shakespeare play in English instead of learning how to analyse it. There are very easy methods you can teach children to work out multiplication sums relatively easily in their heads without having to do rote-learning. It's much more intuitive and the result is, possibly, that they're 0.1 seconds slower than someone who has rote-learned them. It's not worth the hassle.

    Obviously, if someone is literally incapable of counting, that's a problem. I'm not saying that we don't teach people how to do arithmetic. I'm saying that forcing people to learn their times tables off by heart is not arithmetic and it certainly isn't mathematics, which is what the subject is supposed to be called.
    But in primary they are not really doing mathematics, they are learning arithmetic.

    I can confess I am a lot older than the average person posting here, my education goes back to the 1960s,70s and 80s.In the 1970s, in Scotland certainly, you sat a distinct O level in Arithmetic and a distinctly different O level in Maths in fourth year of secondary, but there was virtually no mathematics taught in primary school. (A little bit of geometry re triangles and maybe some very basic algebra learning to move items across the = sign)

    At the end of the day you learnt addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, percentages, areas, volumes and you might by primary seven touch on areas that were a little more maths and a little less arithmetic.

    Multiplication tables are really useful re long division and doing computations over and over reinforced the comfort you developed dealing with numbers; I recall spending primary six and seven doing pages and pages of manual calculations, 3678x 359 etc; being comfortable with numbers is useful, being able in your head to rough estimate quickly something like 2678x359 is useful later to get you to recognise nonsense answers.

    More importantly you spent a lot of time solving puzzles of the type of two trains heading towards each other at different speeds, where will they crash on the track, and after how long. Or a tank containing 2000 lites when full is half full and water is flowing in at 50 litres a minute but flowing out at 20 litres a minute, how long until it overflows. Not difficult but gets the brain problem solving and thinking about how the tools of arithmetic you have mastered can apply to solve the problem.It goes without saying that all calculations were done on paper, no calculators.

    The tables are merely a tool to let you simply complete multiplication of larger numbers easily and long division easily, without a calculator.

    Familiarity with numbers can be useful, I have on quite a few occasions at work added up a column of figures with a calculator but easily spotted the total is out by miles, cannot possibly be correct, because I know the page has 40 entries and few are over 500 so the total must be well below 20,000, probably nearer 12-13,000, so I must have typed one of the numbers in wrongly, missed the decimal point etc. Rough percentage calculations are useful checking tax return completion, the software used is correct but is only as good as the data input. Being able to quickly work out and compare say tax deducted with gross income readily points the compiler to the fact that the two entries do not make sense and one must have been typed in wrongly.

    And there is nothing wrong with learning by rote, training your memory. We would learn poems, countries and capitals, all the states of the USA and their capitals (New York City is not the capital of the state of New York, it is Albany), dates of battles and events in history. Training memory is useful for later in life when you may say need to remember section references of the Taxes Act, or Company Law sections, or tax cases, all the rote learning in early life can help you remembering career specific information later.

    Just think yourselves lucky you did not have to deal with pounds, shilling and pence (adding in base 12 and 20) weights (adding in base 16 and base 14)- I still cook thinking in ounces and pounds and consider my weight in stones not kilos, or measure length and area in inches, feet and acres (I still estimate room sizes by square feet as well as square metres) and convert hectares to acres when considering site sizes.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    That's not at all why I disagree with it, did you even read what I wrote? I am not saying that it's fine for people to be mathematically illiterate. I am saying that I think it is a complete waste of time dedicating everyone's primary school maths education to making them fast at times table recall. I completely understand the convenience of being able to do it quickly. That doesn't mean it's worth alienating a whole hoard of children by cramming random numbers down their throat when they're supposed to be doing mathematics. It's just as bizarre as expecting everyone to memorise a Shakespeare play in English instead of learning how to analyse it. There are very easy methods you can teach children to work out multiplication sums relatively easily in their heads without having to do rote-learning. It's much more intuitive and the result is, possibly, that they're 0.1 seconds slower than someone who has rote-learned them. It's not worth the hassle
    Have you ever considered that it may be harder for most children to grasp and be comfortable with 'smart' ways to do multiplication than just rote memorising tables? Eg. Ask a kid 8*7, he's got to have the capacity to do something like (10-2)*(5+2) if he's only memorised 2, 5 and 10; both finding that decomposition and holding the numbers in that expansion in your head is much more tricky for the average kid than just learning 56 by heart. They may not have to rote memorise under your suggestion, but they still have to do (a lot of) practice to get even reasonably competent at it.

    I also think you are being hopelessly idealistic if you think making kids do the above will somehow put them off maths less than just learning tables.
 
 
 
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