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should long multiplication be taught in schools?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by bs1nt, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. bs1nt

    bs1nt New commenter

    My question to fellow maths teachers is should long multiplication be taught in schools? I believe yes as there are several different mathmatical steps that you need to do to be able to do it and thus helps with mathmatical skills however since we use a calculator now for everything is it necessary? Please could I have your opinons please?
  2. My view is yes, but it should be taught in computer science lessons.
    Implementing an arbitrary-precision integer library should be a standard computer programming exercise, and this is the long multiplication that is needed. Doing it with pencil and paper is obsolete.

  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    Why obsolete? I always have a pen and paper on me but never a calculator. Even at home I wouldn't go looking for a calculator when there's always pen and paper just lying about. Are there people who have a calculator stuck to their heads? I know some phones have a calculator now but mine doesn't and the battery is usually flat. My pen and paper don't need a battery and there are so many around that doing a quick sum is far superior to getting out an electronic gadget.
  4. I would still argue for the inclusion of mental/paper arithematic as I can't see what else is available that has <u>more general</u> utility as a replacement*.
    Any suggestions?

    *In saying this, I can see both sides of the argument, but really at the end of the day, what are you making room for, that is so much more valuable to all children?
  5. There's a calculator application available on the computer I'm typing this into.The situation of not having a calculator is now so rare that we can disregard it. Certainly we can't justify running mathematics education on the basis that someone somewhere might have lost their calculator.

  6. Did you see all those people at the sales, with their calculators, working out what 25% / 50% / 75% actually means?
  7. In my dreams.

    Doitforfree, you sound like a dinosaur....like me. Younger people always keep their mobile charged and handy.

    I disagree that using a computer or calculator is quicker and easier. Like others who finished school before electronic calculators became available I find I can perform calculations faster mentally than my pupils can do them on their calculators. OK, I'm not using written long multiplication but I doubt I could these mental calculations if I hadn't mastered long multiplication as a child.....and it feels good too, like running fast used to feel.
  8. I rarely buy consumer products so I don't see sales. I don't know if you're joking or not. I can mentally calculate 25% of a normal sum of money, but when I was taught calculators were new. Nowadays people might be incapable of making the calculation. It's something you've just got to accept. In the same way very few people can memorise huge chunks of text any longer. That skill died out when printed books became cheap.

  9. bs1nt

    bs1nt New commenter

    but do most employers say that students come with a lack of mental arithmatic skills and which jobs would that include?
  10. What if calculators are banned? Could happen.

  11. GrahamLawler

    GrahamLawler New commenter

    yes and all children should be taken to the nearest river to learn how to wash clothes, well you never know when it will be handy!
  12. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    see https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/536945.aspx
    for a discussion on use of calcs in primary.
    I'm sure we had a big heated debate about methods of multiplication a while ago on here as well.
    My view is yes, definitely teach written multiplication, but not necessarily the traditional "long" method.
  13. To me, working in a very maths intensive job, mental arithmetic isn't very useful. In fact it's almost a standing joke - that means there'll be 7 times 8 strands of DNA, er, how many is that?
    But I did need it when I was a T-shirt salesman. We accepted either American dollars or local currency, and we also bargained the price. So you had to be able to convert to and from dollars and back whilst giving the sales patter.

  14. DM

    DM New commenter

    Discussion is irrelevant. Gove and Gibb have decided the traditional long multiplication and long division algorithms must be taught and so they shall.
  15. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Yes. Of course it should! And they should have an effective strategy for it by the time they leave junior school.
  16. It sounds like it would be quite useful in fact. Surely it wouldn't take long for you to relearn this, if you really have forgotten it. It would allow you to maintain your momentum.
  17. It's a joke.
    Quite often you do some complex analysis to work out how many samples you need to get enough statistical power to demonstrate the effect size you are expecting, or something like that, and the results come back as a simple arithmetical expression. Quite often you should be able to do it in your head but can't be bothered, or someone tries it and gets it wrong. As I said, I actually had to be better at mental arithmetic as a T-shirt salesman.

  18. Still sounds like it is useful.
  19. Not really.
    You might spend an hour working something out which consists of symbols. Then you finally reduce it to an arithemtical expression. That's the answer. You can then get then final number in one second by working it out with your superb, pre-calculator schooling mental arithemetic, or in ten seconds by fishing out the calcualtor and typing in the numbers.
    Often you need to do a million of them with slightly different values, anyway.

  20. DM

    DM New commenter

    Perhaps you should have stuck to the T-shirts? It might have been less tedious.

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