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# What's the big deal about times tables? watch

1. The government has now apparently "declared war on illiteracy and innumeracy" by declaring the expectation that all 11 year olds (although another article claims it's 9 year olds, not sure which one it actually is) know up to their 12 times table. I honestly do not understand the point of this. Learning times tables is nothing to do with maths, it's just rote-learning. I left primary school bitterly hating maths because practically all we did was times-table recall, which I was terrible at. Up until this day, I have still not learned my times tables yet it doesn't seem to have done me any harm whatsoever.

So why is there this obsession with times tables? It just seems pointless and counterproductive to me.
2. Perhaps it's because knowing times tables is a skill we all need in everyday life and it's a lot easier if people can learn them off by heart rather than have to go through the whole process in their head?

That's what the government thinks. Send an email to Nicky Morgan.

(Although too much stress on times tables is bad; I remember crying in Year 4 since I only got 87/90 in one of the routine times tables test handed out).

It's still not as bad as the BBC headline in the website on the homepage which states:

Pupils 'must know times tables by 1…

and cuts off the other '1'.

I do agree that it's got nothing to do with maths. You can just learn them like pieces of vocabulary.
3. (Original post by Chlorophile)
Up until this day, I have still not learned my times tables yet it doesn't seem to have done me any harm whatsoever.
Hmmm. How do you factorise?
4. (Original post by Mr M)
Hmmm. How do you factorise?
Honestly, I often use the quadratic equation solver from my calculator and infer the factorised form from that. I'm pretty fast at working out multiplication sums though. I might be slightly slower than people who have memorised them but I can still work out most sums in a few seconds so it's not like I'm literally incapable of working them out.
5. (Original post by Chlorophile)
Honestly, I often use the quadratic equation solver from my calculator and infer the factorised form from that. I'm pretty fast at working out multiplication sums though. I might be slightly slower than people who have memorised them but I can still work out most sums in a few seconds so it's not like I'm literally incapable of working them out.
That's not great though. You are managing the situation by using a work-around. Your life would have been easier had you mastered your tables at an early age.
6. Not knowing your times tables is like not knowing your alphabet... (imo)

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7. (Original post by Mr M)
That's not great though. You are managing the situation by using a work-around. Your life would have been easier had you mastered your tables at an early age.
My point isn't that learning the times tables is utterly useless, it's that it seems like my entire primary school maths education was devoted to learning the times tables. I hated the subject and went into secondary school bitterly hating it. I was absolutely shocked when I got put into top set in Year 7 because I thought I was terrible at Maths and it was only until my brilliant Year 8 teacher when I realised what a great subject it actually is.
8. (Original post by Chlorophile)
My point isn't that learning the times tables is utterly useless, it's that it seems like my entire primary school maths education was devoted to learning the times tables. I hated the subject and went into secondary school bitterly hating it. I was absolutely shocked when I got put into top set in Year 7 because I thought I was terrible at Maths and it was only until my brilliant Year 8 teacher when I realised what a great subject it actually is.
Knowledge of times tables is very easily measurable and testable as a target. That might be the thinking behind it.
9. (Original post by Clip)
Knowledge of times tables is very easily measurable and testable as a target. That might be the thinking behind it.
It might well be the thinking behind it but I do not think it's in the interests of young people... I don't even understand why we need to be testing children in KS1 and KS2. I don't know any other progressive European countries that have such a rigorous testing regime for such young children.
10. (Original post by Chlorophile)
It might well be the thinking behind it but I do not think it's in the interests of young people... I don't even understand why we need to be testing children in KS1 and KS2. I don't know any other progressive European countries that have such a rigorous testing regime for such young children.
I'm inclined to agree, although for every person that thinks there's too much testing, there will be another who thinks there isn't enough.

Additionally, there's neurological basis as to why knowing your times tables parrot fashion is a good thing.
11. (Original post by Clip)
I'm inclined to agree, although for every person that thinks there's too much testing, there will be another who thinks there isn't enough.

Additionally, there's neurological basis as to why knowing your times tables parrot fashion is a good thing.
I just don't understand the rationale behind wanting to have more and more tests. It's just such an incredible waste of time and stress. If I think about all of the time I have wasted in school worrying about exam technique and revision for mini-tests and mocks and mock mocks and GCSEs which are pretty much instantly unimportant the moment I go into Sixth Form, it's depressing.
12. (Original post by Chlorophile)
I just don't understand the rationale behind wanting to have more and more tests. It's just such an incredible waste of time and stress. If I think about all of the time I have wasted in school worrying about exam technique and revision for mini-tests and mocks and mock mocks and GCSEs which are pretty much instantly unimportant the moment I go into Sixth Form, it's depressing.
TSR is the wrong place to be preaching that particular Gospel. This is the Mecca and Medina of measurable education.
13. (Original post by Clip)
TSR is the wrong place to be preaching that particular Gospel. This is the Mecca and Medina of measurable education.
Probably although there are fortunately some people here who agree with me. It's not a particularly easy thing to accept. I was so happy about my AS results and then it hit me that all of my results are pretty much irrelevant because none of it really says anything about how I think, it just proves that I'm very good at playing the exams game.
14. (Original post by Chlorophile)
Probably although there are fortunately some people here who agree with me. It's not a particularly easy thing to accept. I was so happy about my AS results and then it hit me that all of my results are pretty much irrelevant because none of it really says anything about how I think, it just proves that I'm very good at playing the exams game.
On a macro level, the argument becomes very circular, though. If we had much less testing, I'd hazard that there would be constant clamour for more.
15. (Original post by Clip)
TSR is the wrong place to be preaching that particular Gospel. This is the Mecca and Medina of measurable education.
I'm not sure that's particularly true. A lot of people here use the results they have obtained from such tests as a means to brag, certainly, but there are also an awful lot of people here who "don't do well" on tests and think they only measure your memorisation ability.

I went through the Scottish system, which from what I'm reading seems to have employed less testing than the English one. We even manage to have end of year exams with a weighting of 100% and no resists, meaning if you fail or are not happy with your grade then you have to retake the whole subject over the next year.
16. (Original post by Clip)
On a macro level, the argument becomes very circular, though. If we had much less testing, I'd hazard that there would be constant clamour for more.
Well there isn't in countries with education systems that appear to do better than ours (and kids that are much, much happier) like Finland ):
17. (Original post by Chlorophile)
Well there isn't in countries with education systems that appear to do better than ours (and kids that are much, much happier) like Finland ):
But that's Finland. They have a particular mentality that we don't have. You can't make British education policy on the basis of what makes Fins happy, if it doesn't coincide with what British people want.
18. I don't know why its in the news as it's always been in the primary curriculum! Maybe it's an upcoming election ...

The new primary curriculum says children should know their tables earlier but it was always there.
19. (Original post by Clip)
But that's Finland. They have a particular mentality that we don't have. You can't make British education policy on the basis of what makes Fins happy, if it doesn't coincide with what British people want.
No, but it does make me desperately want to move to Finland (or Sweden).
20. (Original post by Chlorophile)
No, but it does make me desperately want to move to Finland (or Sweden).
Both EU. Nothing stopping you.

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