Re: Multiplication Tables

Tina (altsch@pacbell.net)
Tue, 07 Jan 1997 23:51:55 +0000

Hi Dale and everyone!

Since we just "finished" the "Multiplication Table" today with my
3rd grader son, I'd like to respond.

My son enjoys handling money, earning it, spending it, adding it up
and anything that has to do with it. So Math makes sense to him,
because it is part of his everyday life.
The Math book that I am using in school is a German Mathbook. All
of its Math is based on "why on earth should we know this?"
It follows the major development of kids' interests and applies
its Math to a child's interest. I need no other materials.
We do have plenty of others to "play" with.
So when we started studying "Multiplication" it coincided with
my son needing it for his "own" personal financial interests.
My point: A child will learn something if it is needed and if
it is important to the child. Nothing new to SVS.
In comparing some of the Math materials I have seen here in the USA
and in some other countries, I have noticed a difference in
approach:
Mere memorization versus purpose and true understanding.
The German Mathbook that I am using does not require to memorize
anything. It teaches how to find an answer and different ways of
finding it. It teaches thinking skills and thought processes.
Multiplication and Division are therefore covered simultaneously.
Again, always applied to real life situations.
The student becomes the spy, the inquirer, the detective.
How do I find something out with the information that I have?
How many different ways are there of finding out?

Second point: What is more important? To know the multiplication table
or to know how to figure it out, if one does need it?

I enjoyed watching my son think, process his thoughts, figure things
out,
today as he filled out the complete multiplication table up to 10x10.
It was the thought process that mattered to me and that he would
always know on how to do it. None of the numbers were memorized.
All of them were understood.

Above anything else, I believe that Math is about thinking skills
and thought processes, not about numbers.

Addendum:
I, myself, spent my 6th grade in a Math class in a German Grammar school
with the most memorable teacher. We spent the whole year expressing
ourselves mathematically without using any numbers. It was the
best Math I ever learned.

A fulfilling new year 1997 to everyone!
Tina

Dale R. Reed wrote:
>
> Thought I would wake up this discussion list.
>
> How often in Sudbury Valley model schools do 9 year olds ask staff
> members to help them learn the multiplication tables? I remember that
> in Pomona, California in about 1943 they did not teach multiplication
> tables in 3rd grade and when we moved to Salt Lake Dad spent a couple
> weeks in the evenings teaching me up to the 10x10's so I could catch up
> with the other 4th graders.
>
> I am interested if there has been similar experiences at Sudbury or one
> of the other schools represented on this list. Dale