A Stanford professor has found that drilling and rote memorization is less effective for learning math than working on problems they enjoy.
According to Professor Jo Boaler, children who do well in math learn a “number sense” which is different from memorization often used for instruction in school.
“There is a common and damaging misconception in mathematics – the idea that strong math students are fast math students” said Professor Boaler. She is a professor of mathematics education and lead author on a new working paper.
Boaler believes that it is for the best that Common Core Standards for K-12 schools emphasize process and problem solving, and de-emphasisize rote fact memorization. Research shows that math fact knowledge is important, but Boaler says the best way to know these math facts is through regular use and understanding of numerical relations. She says it is best to avoid speed and test pressure.
“When we emphasize memorization and testing in the name of fluency we are harming children, we are risking the future of our ever-quantitative society and we are threatening the discipline of mathematics. We have
the research knowledge we need to change this and to enable all children to be powerful mathematics learners. Now is the time to use it,” she said.