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Why do pupils need to know a written method for long division by the end of year 6?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Anonymous, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. dkjones

    dkjones New commenter

    This also may be worth reading:


    In it Wells writes:

    "There is a crucial tension here between the highly abstract perspective which comes naturally to the professional mathematician and the extremely concrete perspective that is natural to the teacher who knows that pupils are expected to start to understand potentially very complicated ideas—such as multiplication—when they are very young and long before their ability to understand abstract ideas is well-developed, if it ever will be."
  2. primenumbers

    primenumbers New commenter

    I don't think I would have any problems with primary teachers telling kids that multiplication of whole numbers is repeated addition. It is like us telling year 7 kids that they can't square root a negative number when using their calculator. The able ones will get to a certain level and they will realise what it actually is. The less able ones can live with the "wrong" definitions and it wouldn't harm them a bit.
  3. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    That's the point Wells is trying to make - and it's also at the root of why we, in secondary, need kids to have "mastery" of arithmetic so that we can teach them some maths.

    If, as has been done in the past, those running Education (i.e., the people who sit on the National Curriculum boards, determine Ofsted's policies and who run university teacher training departments) listen to subject experts, they get the "experts' view" of what's needed.

    Trouble is, that's all too often the experts' view of what he'd like his postgraduate students to know, not a view about what primary kids need in order to one day become those postgraduate students.

    The postgraduate needs the big "conceptual" stuff. The 11 year old needs to be competent enough at 4-function arithmetic (including fractions and decimals) that simple numeracy never gets in the way of whatever it is we're trying to teach them.

    Because the well meaning Educationalists listened to subject experts, they gave us a system which tries to teach 7 year olds to think like postgraduates.

    And that's just not possible.

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