I have a vision of a school classroom, full of children, standing (why they're standing I don't know, but I imagine them standing), chanting in unison "TWO TWO'S ARE FOUR. THREE TWO'S ARE SIX. FOUR TWO'S ARE EIGHT..." and so on.
The UK Education Secretary has announced plans to ensure that all children are well grounded in the basics of English and Mathematics. This all sounds good, I fully agree that by the time you leave school you ought to know how to do sums and read and write, and do all of these things correctly, because if you're going to apply for a job (or college, or university) you're going to be expected to have all these things sorted.
There was just one point of the news item that I read that sounds a bit questionable - I'm led to understand that the Education Secretary said "We will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart"
I just wonder a little about how relevant times tables are, and whether they're actually the best way to educate kids about mathematics. I was taught at home and whilst I certainly remember reading the times tables, I was always more comfortable working the sums out rather than having the sums drilled into me.
Before I wrote this, I thought to myself "What's 12 times 12?" - do I know it off my heart? No. But it isn't too tricky to work out - 12 times 10 is 120, plus 12, and plus another 12 - 144.
I think I'd be slightly reluctant to rely on my memory to spit out answers, certainly to the times tables that I'm less comfortable with - the sevens times table is probably the worst for me because to me there isn't an easily identifiable pattern to the numbers, so I have to work it out. Most of the others I can either remember, for one reason or another, or I have little tricks to do the sums quickly.
Do you know your times tables? Are there ones that you're stronger with than others? Do you think it's better to know information by rote or to help equip children with the skills to solve problems?
As an aside, thanks to all that made contact regarding my proposed solo tabletop gaming series - I'm planning to do a pilot episode in the next week or two, and if it gets a good reception I'll look to put together a series. Do feel free to comment with suggestions as to what game I should feature in the pilot!