Do you remember when, as a child in school, your attention sometimes wandered away from the lesson at hand? You stared out the window into open space, looking at nothing in particular, just wondering. And just maybe, a slight smile may have come to your lips as a thought budded and then exploded into a whole new world. What a wonderful world it was!
It wasn't that you really longed to be somewhere else. You just longed to be! There was an inner thrill, and it was all your very own.
Psychologists like to tell us that these pubescent years are sex based, and all activity turns on that. Ah! But there is so much more! Many times youngsters daydream; their minds filled with magical things and often to our surprise they have heard what has been said. Their minds, sponge like, soak up every nuance, sensation, and feeling.
The world is, as it is, their oyster, a wonderland of things to explore, of new thoughts and feelings to generate. All of which comes together in a delight of being alive, fully active and restless. Do you remember how it was? Close your eyes, just for a moment, and think back.
Do you remember when all of that died?
Schools kill that delicious sense of wondering by insisting students color within the lines, no matter what those lines may be. Rote memorizing stuff doesn't create wonderment, foster creativity, or delight in learning.
Question: Does the mass demand for standardized testing foster wonderment? Hardly. They stifle, no-destroy-creative teaching and creative learning. They leave no room for the teacher to reach out and intellectually touch the developing mind of his or her students. To take them on an odyssey composed of excitement and possible dreams. They used to say it was a loss of innocence. That's not true. It is a loss of creative minds. A horrid sadness fills my soul.
Cock Robin, I know who killed you.
Norman W Wilson, PhD
Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education. He is the author and co-author of college textbooks in the humanities. His latest book is DUH! The American Educational Disaster.
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Having tutored struggling high school students for a long time now, I have noticed a disturbing pattern. Most of them don't know their time tables or other basic number facts. The way in which their results are assessed and reported does not reveal this to parents. I have had parents come to me with school reports pointing out that their children cannot understand trigonometry or what ever specific topic they have been tested on. Unfortunately, their children believe this too and begin to think they are stupid and unable to get good marks. However, I quickly discover that their mistakes and slowness in completing questions are the consequence of basic arithmetic errors. They do not know their times tables. Many also add and subtract incorrectly. Reliance on a calculator does not overcome these limitations because these children cannot recognise when an answer is clearly wrong and double check it. There are also typically non-calculator tests that students must complete in high school. The fundamentals can't be bypassed without serious consequences.
Rote learning has been devalued in modern society and many students have no concept of the value of memorisation. Yet the old fashioned ways of learning times tables worked. I still remember my times tables after all these years. I remember rhythmically repeating the times tables with the rest of the class in a sing-song voice. It was boring and seemed rather pointless at the time but the method worked and I still remember them.
The importance of times tables may not be too apparent in primary (elementary) school but they are the basics upon which a good mathematics experience in high school is based. If kids can learn the lyrics of countless songs, they can learn their times tables. Parents and teachers need to emphasise the importance of the basics to academic success and make learning them a priority.
As well as daily repetition and practice of times tables here are some tips to help work out answers quickly (but not as quickly as knowing them by rote):
The 9 Times Table up to Ten
1. Hold your hands in front of you with your fingers spread out.
2. For 9 X 3 bend your third finger down. (9 X 4 would be the fourth finger etc.)
3. You have 2 fingers in front of the bent finger and 7 after the bent finger.
4. Thus the answer must be 27.
Another 9 Times Table Method
The 4 Times Table
The Eleven Times Table
These tricks can be helpful in quickly finding answers to the above multiplication tables but they are not a substitute for learning the times tables.
Our primary contributor is Elissa, who is a qualified high school teacher and Irlen Screener.