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Should Times Tables Be Taught Anymore?

Exploring the basic building blocks of maths through Professor Ian Stewart's views on the subject of times tables.

Author: Olivia Chandler
Date: Jan 19, 2011 - 8:14:54 AM

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Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick has raised some interesting comments in an article published recently.

Stewart claims that we all need to have a fundamental understanding of maths without relying on a calculator or other such devices or external sources.

Many people are of the opinion that calculators have reduced the importance of having this basic but essential understanding of maths.

Calculators will give you the answer but it takes time and you also need to have a calculator at hand.

In fact, I believe that we have to know the times tables as well as we know our own names.

This then gives us the confidence and ability to tackle more difficult maths.

Stewart claims that there is constant debate between traditionalists and modernisers as to whether teachers should continue teaching times tables.

Are they worth teaching? I definitely share Ian Stewart's view that they are fundamental blocks in the subject of maths.

It is incredible that this should be debated. Both parties should be looking for ways to learn times tables for instant recall rather than defending their own teaching methods.

Knowing times tables without having to think is the key. Everything you learn later is built on this. Ian Stewart gives us the lovely metaphor 'it will be like trying to ride a bike when you can't remember which bits are the pedals'.

Without having this basic understanding, many people lack confidence and develop an unfortunate fear of maths as a result.

Without question, there's no ignoring the fact that maths is vital in our everyday lives.

In his article, Stewart brings up the matter of patterns of numbers in times tables. E.g. Adding a zero to each number for the 10 times table: 10 x 6 = 60. He includes the multiples of the 9 times tables: 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90

The last number descends 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

Such patterns in maths can be used to increase enjoyment of the subject by promoting a more interesting and fun way of learning.

But it's important to remember that patterns alone won't be enough to learn the times tables.

Concluding his views, Ian Stewart mentions that while times tables are vital, they don't need to be taught in the same manner that they've been taught in the past.

One such way to explore this is to search online sites, many of which provide more engaging and fun ways of learning the times tables.

However, feeling confident in selecting the right route isn't always easy.

This is why I believe that parents should actively seek a system that uses more innovative methods of teaching children their times tables.

This makes learning times tables interesting and fun, and leads to confidence in maths.

Multiplication Time Tables - the basic building blocks of Maths. For more information, go to

Multiplication Time Tables - the basic building blocks of Maths. For more information, go to

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