Mathematicians and math educators attended a “peace summit” to settle the math wars, reports the Washington Post. Participants were surprised to discover a wide area of agreement:
¥ Heavy reliance on calculators in the early elementary grades is a bad idea.
¥ Elementary school children must have automatic recall of number facts, meaning that, yes, they have to memorize multiplication tables.
¥ Children must master basic algorithms. The meeting participants spent time defining the word “algorithm,” which means a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.
Math makes you smarter, according to an article linked by Chris Correa.
In next month’s issue of Intelligence, an interdisciplinary group of researchers propose a new hypothesis to explain the Flynn effect. The Flynn effect refers to the puzzling rise of IQ scores all over the world during the twentieth century.
Popular explanations of the Flynn effect often note improvements in nutrition and increased access to formal schooling, but these authors emphasize the changing nature of mathematics education and the possible effects on the prefrontal cortex. This is because fluid intelligence (the ability to reason and deal with unfamiliar problems) has rapidly improved in recent history. They suggest contemporary education requires kids to get a lot of practice with prefrontally-based fluid cognitive skills.