Math is hard

Emily writes about why math is going to get a lot harder for your kids

By Emily Sadler

Math is hard

Credit: O.Taillon

As you may have already heard, there’s a debate raging on about how math should be taught in schools.

According to Thursday’s Globe and Mail article, the multiplication table is out and strategic problem solving is taking its place.

Yes, you read that right; apparently kids don’t need to learn the basics of adding and subtracting, but they’ll know how to approach it with “strategy.”

Although I’m a word girl through-and-through, there was a time, back in elementary school and part of high school, when I actually really liked math. As a chronic over-thinker, I was always asking, “why?” So for me, math was a break from words and arguments and paragraph structure and research. It was a series of formulas that, if executed properly, would result in the correct answer. The only correct answer.

My over-active mind found comfort in the straightforward formulas of algebra and addition, like one giant puzzle to solve. It wasn’t until the introduction of graphing calculators that my hatred of math started.

It’s no surprise that this change in my attitude towards math coincided with the introduction of strategy. If we’re starting our kids on the word-oriented strategies of math and digging into the “why” rather than the “how much” of math, we’re basically moving backwards.

As the Globe and Mail article states, cutting out the multiplication tables is like “playing the piano without ever learning scales, or hockey without basic drills."

Needless to say, math is about the numbers. And that’s the way it should stay.

What do you think about the way math is being taught these days?

Photo by O.Taillon via Flickr

This article was originally published on Dec 16, 2011