OUR APPROACH TO TEACHING MATH
Computers and electronic calculators are wonderful tools that did not exist until just a few short years ago. However, one unexpected consequence of their arrival seems to have been a general deterioration in math ability in our schools. For example, we often see grade 3, 4 and 5 children unable to do the simplest addition and multiplication without using a calculator (or their fingers). Why should this be?
Because students are now allowed to use calculators on their exams, it seems that basic drills of multiplication tables or adding columns of numbers are no longer considered important enough to be taught in school. Even worse, since problems can be entered into a computer or calculator without much thought, the basic concepts behind them are often not well understood. This becomes apparent when students “memorize” some procedure or formula and yet have no idea why it works. They may be able to rotely and mechanically work out problems, and even do well on exams, but without an understanding of why these procedures work, they eventually fall on their heads as the math becomes more difficult. Or they graduate not being able to use what they have supposedly learned in school.
By using real life examples and materials that clearly demonstrate the concepts behind all math procedures, our students learn that math is a valuable subject that can be applied to the world around them. With this understanding as a solid foundation, they can then gain skill and certainty by practicing and drilling.
We ensure that our students thoroughly practice all aspects of basic calculation – arithmetic – so they are not helpless if a calculator is not available. Far from being a drudgery, when math concepts are fully understood and practiced, students develop a good number sense and take pride in their new-found skills.
Our modern world is full of distractions that can cause our children to have difficulty focusing. Properly taught, math is an excellent way of disciplining and training the mind that has benefits in all aspects of a child’s life that require the ability to concentrate.