Memorizing fact families and times tables

Dear Editor,

It is truly amazing that I agree with an editorial of B.P. Schimke’s and approve of something the NDP has done!

After years of dabbling in a variety of ‘New Math’ programs, it is indeed time to get back to the basics.

Apparently, 40 per cent of Calgary Board of Education Grade 9’s failed their Math Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT) with similar results elsewhere.

While Minister Eggen is taking heat for this, he is not totally to blame.

This generation of math failure started with Jeff Johnson and Gordon Dirks and their “Discovery Math” program.

Fortunately, some serious Math teachers held onto their “old” resources and common sense, but too many were willing to join the experiment.

The time to “discover” math is in the preschool years – counting toes, eggs, cutlery, toys and the bumps on Lego bricks.

It has been a delight to watch my nearly five-year-old grandson grasp the number system this year – to a point where he will now count to 1,000 for anyone willing to listen.

I recall my brother-in-law’s story of counting while riding the swather with a grandson who discovered that “you could just keep counting forever and ever”!

Contrast this to a sister-in-law’s story of her store’s new teen staff member who cannot do simple division without the calculator on their phone.

Children will imitate their parents and grandparents whether they read and talk about numbers in their daily life, or whether they spend time playing with smart devices.

Yes, memorizing fact families and times tables is work, but we need to think of it as an investment, just as members of sports teams practice, practice, practice.

Thanks, B.P. Schimke, for pointing out the value of math knowledge even in our modern economy.

Pat Holloway, Castor, Ab.

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