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 Post subject: Maths in primary schools
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:11 pm 
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Location: Berks,Bucks
I must belong to the older generation because I am applauding this new proosal

>>In many schools, children are being taught a bewildering range of different techniques for answering the same sum and it is most unlikely that this is leading them to love the discipline. There has to be a return to what an older generation would have termed arithmetic and far less interest in esoteric methods of dealing with numbers.<<

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 056378.ece


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:36 pm 
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Location: East Kent
I agree to some extent,but the numeracy strategy has been good in getting pupils to think about HOW they arrived at an answer and to have foar more of a feel for number.

I moved schools from Wales to Glos at 7 and was made to feel very silly for not working out my takeaways teh same way as everyone else. The fact that i got them all right my way didn't seem to matter.

Teh downside of riged algorithms is that I have had pupils who went through teh motions but had absolutely no idea why they were doing something and found to hard to extend their knowledge.

No method is perfect for everyone though. Something which teh constantly changing Literacy strategy seems to have forgotten!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:50 pm 
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Yoyo123,

You are right - the numerical skills are much better - the 'old methods' only worked for some pupils and did not encourage understanding.

My child can take subtract decimaks mentally - why write them vertically if you can do this!! All the questions up to GCSE have 'sums' set out horizontally to give the message that pupils may use any method.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 6:14 pm 
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I understand the advantages of the current numeracy strategy. It helps pupils understand some maths because they can chose the method that is easiest for their brain.

My problem is that I think that the primary school maths curricular shys away from anything a bit complex

My son is now in year 7 and doing very well in maths, but will only do multiplications and divisions using methods that use half a page, take a long time, an lead to errors. Why is this?
I don't know if the long multiplications method is the best, but it is infinitely faster than the mehod he uses. He was never taught it in enough depth to be able to really understand it, and not encouraged to use it, so he ignored it.

Why are primary schools not able to teach anything a bit complex?. We were perfecly able to understand it when I was at school, why has it become too difficult?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 7:13 pm 
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Location: East Kent
Maybe teh problem lies with teh confidence of some primary teachers in their ability to tackle the maths.

(PLEASE NOTE I SAID SOME!!!)

As with all subjects we learn one way and then adapt it as we progress, many children no longer have to use the grid method once the idea is set and can move on from there. How many of us still count from 1 each time, yet we were all taught that before it became second nature.

Primary teachers have to teach all subjects even though they are only specialists in one or two. I have a degree in Chemistry with Management Science(quite mathematical), my confidence to teach how to bowl a cricket ball or play tennis is not so great!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:34 pm 
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Catherine - the grid method for multiplication is favoured because it leads naturally into multiplying brackets in KS3 and later to completing the square in KS4 and factorising polynomials in KS5.

The traditional method does not


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:47 am 
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Location: Tamworth
Mathematics when I was in primary school, about 9 years ago, was useless. My father taught me long division & multiplication, sum involving fractions and moderately difficult algebra - all of which I was able to do before I left year 6. When I was dividing and giving answers in decimal places whereas I would get a telling off in school for not using remainders. Though long division served me well as during alevel maths, long division of quadratics e.g. (x^2-3x-7) / (x-8) , I was able to do without much help whereas my peers, who were all very intelligent, struggled because of a lack of early learning of basic skills.
My 2 cents.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:16 am 
Oh I haveto comment on this. Just yesterday my daughter sat down to tackle her maths homework. She had various types of questions to answer(2 double sided paper) and had to use various methods which took her ages. Yes she can rush but then it leads to mistakes eg large number multiplying and putting the numbers in wrong place. On the large number addition I couldn't help but suggest she use the old fashioned way as below
134
+265
and also encourged her to work out some in her head which she could do quite quickly.

The second paper she had to do was to work some questions out and then set out how she did them. I do realise this checks the child understands how they were shown but it can be very time consuming and being honest quite frustrating as a parent.

Surely aslong as they can find the answer does it matter how and why should they be penalised for 'thinking outside the box'

I believe children should also be encouraged to work stuff out in thier head as much as they can at the end of the day they are told they should know thier multiplication in thier head so why not take it a bit further.

Like you Catherine I probably favour the older methods and also haveto confess that I don't always understand the new ways

Mel


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 2:16 pm 
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Location: Berks,Bucks
yoyo123 wrote:
Maybe teh problem lies with teh confidence of some primary teachers in their ability to tackle the maths.

.....
Primary teachers have to teach all subjects even though they are only specialists in one or two. I have a degree in Chemistry with Management Science(quite mathematical), my confidence to teach how to bowl a cricket ball or play tennis is not so great!


I think that it could be a part of the problem, yoyo123, but I don't know precisely what kind of maths training primary school teachers receive.

I must add that it's not a rant not against the teachers, but certainly a rant against the curriculum.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:44 pm 
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MelX,

Eaplaining your method or 'reasoning' is a key art of moving [or being capable of] moving to level 6 - it is a fundamental part of proof.

Catherine and others - the 'old methods' failed most people as they did them by rote and had no strategy for knowing whether the answer was correct! To be a Primary teacher I think you only need GCSE Maths grade C - my child used to find mistakes all the time in Y5 lessons ....


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