## Comment Re:danger will robinson (Score 1) 688

Every few years I see yet another "correct way to teach basic mathematics" come through with the promise that this new way will win where the old ways have failed. Common core is in some ways yet another one of these.

My problem is that arithmetic is both a concept and a skill. Most of the teaching methods emphasize teaching the concept. This would be like focusing on teaching you how to ride a bike by trying to come up with constructive suggestions to improve your intuition about how it works, but minimizing the amount of time you actually get to be on the bike.

What is being lost is that basic math is a skill and like all skills, it needs repeated and constant practice sustained over multiple years. I see way too many students that can't do basic arithmetic after going through these "concept" oriented classes. Or to put it more strongly, if learning basic math isn't a boring repetitive chore, than you aren't doing it right.

In the worst of all possible worlds, straightforward skill practice is replaced by repetitive practice of the "concept" building exercises -- so its still boring giving you not even that win. I see this often enough that I rather ditch any "concept" building and just do the arithmetic if the outcome is to train mathematical illiterates. It would be much like doing repetitive practice sessions of "envisioning yourself on a bike" without ever being on a bike. Imagine we treated reading like math. You weren't allowed just to read the books, you had to "read" the books in the correct way showing that you had built up your mastery of parsing words from letters, to syllables, to words.

A kid shouldn't be allowed out of sixth grade if they cannot quickly answer the following questions:

40 - 16

8 * 9

1/2 - 1/3

My problem is that arithmetic is both a concept and a skill. Most of the teaching methods emphasize teaching the concept. This would be like focusing on teaching you how to ride a bike by trying to come up with constructive suggestions to improve your intuition about how it works, but minimizing the amount of time you actually get to be on the bike.

What is being lost is that basic math is a skill and like all skills, it needs repeated and constant practice sustained over multiple years. I see way too many students that can't do basic arithmetic after going through these "concept" oriented classes. Or to put it more strongly, if learning basic math isn't a boring repetitive chore, than you aren't doing it right.

In the worst of all possible worlds, straightforward skill practice is replaced by repetitive practice of the "concept" building exercises -- so its still boring giving you not even that win. I see this often enough that I rather ditch any "concept" building and just do the arithmetic if the outcome is to train mathematical illiterates. It would be much like doing repetitive practice sessions of "envisioning yourself on a bike" without ever being on a bike. Imagine we treated reading like math. You weren't allowed just to read the books, you had to "read" the books in the correct way showing that you had built up your mastery of parsing words from letters, to syllables, to words.

A kid shouldn't be allowed out of sixth grade if they cannot quickly answer the following questions:

40 - 16

8 * 9

1/2 - 1/3