Friday, December 16, 2011

Adding Up To Confusion?

Did you realize that kids (in Ontario, at least) are learning math in a much different way from the way their parents learned it? Memorization is no longer used. The emphasis in teaching now is in understanding how to arrive at a solution. So what's the problem?

The problem is that our kids do not have their "math facts" at their fingertips the way we did. Solving simple problems takes much longer and kids are arriving at university without the confidence in math that they need to move on to more complex ideas.

Now, for example, instead of lining numbers up in a column to work out the solution to an addition problem, kids are laying the numbers out horizontally and then observing the properties of the ones, tens and hundreds columns in order to solve it. While a person's understanding of the concepts involved may be satisfied, I believe it is an understatement to say that such a solution lacks elegance. Parents also find themselves at a disadvantage in trying to help their kids with math, since the methods the kids are supposed to use are so different from the tools their parents have used successfully for many years.

There are some who believe that this new way of understanding math provides fodder for private tutoring schools when desparate parents and kids reach for help.

See more at The Globe and Mail. The issue seems to strike a nerve with Globe and Mail readers, as at last count there were 559 comments! Many of them are from teachers and all of them are interesting.

Feel free to comment too.