And as for the concepts-before-procedure argument, she quipped: “Would you want to go to a doctor who’s learned about the concepts but never done the surgery? Would you want your doctor to say, ‘I had the right idea when I removed your appendix, though I took out the wrong one?’ “
Thus, when a parent is asked to multiply 88 by 5, we’ll do it with pen and paper, multiplying 8 by 5 and carrying over the 4, etc. But a child today might reason that 5 is half of 10, and 88 times 10 is 880, so 88 times 5 is half of that, 440 — poof, no pen, no paper.
What struck me as funny about this article is that my mother had the same argument with my teachers but in reverse. She objected to the having to do math in a step by step predetermined formula that did not take into account basic number sense. My mother knew there were many different ways to solve math problems and as long as they were sound and gave me the correct answer she saw no reason not to use them.
My teachers on the other hand were very wedded to the idea that there was one way to solve a division problem. My mother was very adept at mental math. I can remember her adding the cost of an entire basket full of groceries faster than the clerks could punch in the numbers at the register.
I’m glad that our master math teacher presents concepts in multiple manners to the students and allows them to use whenever mathematically sound math method works best for them. This includes the old fashion algorithms parents are used to seeing.