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Does knowing your times tables really matter these days?

Yesterday I went to my local garden centre and was chatting to the young (in his 20s) assistant. He answered all my questions about various plants but when it came to charging me for 8 small garden canes at 7p each, he had to use a calculator. I was amazed but then started to wonder if it really is necessary to know your times tables "off by heart" as I learnt them at junior school. My 15 year old granddaughter says that she struggles with her tables yet ask her to do anything on the computer and she is a genius 🙂 What do you think?

Created By on 10/06/2018

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13th Jan 2021 10:35:13
Thanks for voting!
jeanmark - That, unfortunately was just an example of poor teaching, no child should be made to feel a failure, I once had a stormy interview with my son's PE teacher who called him Duck feet, as at the time he had a weak ankle joint which caused his foot to swing and needed remedial work. I was furious!.
Hopefully there is more understanding and encouragement in teaching standards these days.
I applaud your strength in speaking out, you are stronger than you realize!!!

In answer to celtictaf, I thoroughly agree. I believe there is some suggestion that basic life skills may return to the curriculum. I was very fortunate in my secondary Grammar school that in my final year we sometimes had gardening for PE, swimming lessons at the local baths, we were taken to the rehearsals of the visiting Orchestral concerts on a Saturday morning, and also to experience occasional local Council meetings All great Life experiences. Also in RE we had a grounding in all the major religions, No racism there!.

.I must add that my family is ordinary Working Class, I passed the 11plus and had a free placing. It has Upgraded my whole life!!! My parents could not afford to send me to University, but this did not stop me from having a successful working life. It is no wonder that we of our generation are Survivors.
Response from jeanmark made on 13th Jan 2021 10:57:31
Thank you Purplehat, fortunately I am very strong willed and despite my school experiences I had a long and satisfying career that included professional qualifications and gaining a degree. I continue to hate numbers!

12th Jan 2021 19:43:43 (Last activity: 13th Jan 2021 11:03:24)
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PurpleHat, I agree on the alphabet but as to numbers, they never trained my brain, just froze it. I spent most of my schools years dreading any math lesson, loosing sleep the night before as you were always made to feel a failure if you couldn't grasp certain aspects of the subject with maths teachers ignoring you if you were a little slower than the rest.

I have managed this far to cope with everyday numbers and no longer worry what people, think, other than make sure others do not suffer as I did. We all have a strengths and weaknesses, mine is the latter but I have many of the former!
Response from Celtictaf made on 13th Jan 2021 09:29:23
Education has become about numbers excuse the pun. Its throughput and grades and not developing the person. I taught in universities and saw the gradual decline of both incoming students and what was expected of us as teachers. I actually taught adults that counting using your fingers wasn't a bad thing. And how to get near to the right totals and work from there
Response from jeanmark made on 13th Jan 2021 11:03:24 > @Celtictaf
Fortunately Celtictaf, I only had to teach student nurses in specific subjects that related to my specialist field of nursing, this gave me a great deal of control over content.
10th Jan 2021 22:11:22 (Last activity: 11th Jan 2021 12:02:50)
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Learning the alphabet and times tables when young was a way of training the brain to gather and hold information. Once my dear long gone mother-in-law knew that I was pregnant she said "Mind you teach them their nursery rhymes, which I realised later was also brain training, and a great piece of advice

. I can still add up the cumulative cost of several items in a shop in my head to the amazement of the young assistant at the till. a flexible and retentive memory has been an asset all my life

Computer skills are not always the answer, a good source of gaining information it is true, but not the same thing as training a young brain to learn and observe and retain, I think!!!
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 11th Jan 2021 12:02:50
Wise words, as usual, PurpleHat! 🙂
10th Jan 2021 10:25:26 (Last activity: 10th Jan 2021 11:33:56)
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I think the ability to solve problems, and be creative is the important thing especially for young people. Thus the basic requirements to be able to guesstimate and work out things needs to be there. Hence tables, Language, etc. It is far to easy to reach for the ipad, google and believe the outcome. See the US at the momment
Response from Sally - Silversurfer's Editor made on 10th Jan 2021 11:33:56
Hi Celtictaf,

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9th Nov 2018 08:38:43
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Children are still taught times tables in school, although usually in a practical way and not by rote. The reason your garden centre assistant couldn't multiply is because he doesn't have to use his knowledge in everyday situations, as we used to, so that it becomes very rusty. I never learnt my tables by rote, but I was always able to tackle maths problems because I could "see" them in spatial terms. I think this kind of skill - to visualise shape, space, patterns, relationships and number - is more useful in an age when the calculator can manage more mechanical tasks.
Issy 01
28th Oct 2018 10:17:07
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I have 3 children that are still at school and the school say that it is important,as it makes working maths problems out easier. But lots of people don't know them all off by heart (me included) now days as you say in lots of jobs you don't use them as their is something to work problems out on,but yes it would help at times as my 13 year old son is always firing maths problems at me just to test me
6th Jul 2018 08:13:55
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Those who know me, can certainly testify that I am no Maths genius, and I take the point of the convenience of the calculator, but I think it is important, it's fun and helps keep the mind agile. If you are bartering, or negotiating the price of something, are you seriously going to pull out a calculator?
10th Jun 2018 21:24:24 (Last activity: 11th Jun 2018 14:16:37)
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Knowing the times tables was kind of important in the late 90's. But today with calculators and mobile phones the electronic gadgets are an extension of the brain. Hence calculators are allowed in for exams. But using the calculator means saving time with old log tables and more maths and theory. Not knowing the tables is no different from not knowing your spelling. Hence the spell checker on most apps. The function of the human brain is slowly changing. We are all robots anyway. I mean organic robots by whoever designed us. Most kids today multitask. They can do homework, facechat, snapchat and facebook all at the same time.
But CaroleAH I understand where you're coming from. To add to this timetable chat, I have to put my hands up and say that I dont worry about it as long as they can add by whatever means. What gives me sleeepless nights and nightmares is when timetables and calculators and no gadgets can help me understand the word INFINITY.
Infinity means never ending. The universe is never ending. So if it never ends where does it start if it never ended. Whats outside it? Now I am trying to think outside the box and it gets even more complicated. Why would anyone want to boggle us with such a complex thought and yet have time to worry about times tables. So very soon calculators and spellchecks will be implanted in the brain.. its sorted.
Response from jeanmark made on 11th Jun 2018 14:16:37
Kemmi, I would like to add something I read recently that I believe relates to me- "I don't think inside the box, I don't think outside of the box, in fact I don't even know where the box is", now where does that leave me?
10th Jun 2018 19:40:25
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Well Carole, I'm not sure. There will be many who will argue it remains important but with todays technology is it? Tills add up automatically so assistants rarely have to or they have calculators to use in an emergency. My own great nephews and niece all have a natural talent for maths and add up prices in their heads, when I am still trying to work out if I have enough fingers to count on, and I was the one taught the times table! It will be interesting to see responses to your question.

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