Should we stop making kids memorize times tables and ban Mad Minute Mondays? asks Jill Barshay on the *Hechinger Report*. Flash cards, drills — and especially timed quizzes — are “damaging” for kids, argues Jo Boaler, a Stanford education professor in Fluency Without Fear: Research Evidence on the Best Ways to Learn Math Facts.

“Drilling without understanding is harmful,” Boaler told Barshay. “I’m not saying that math facts aren’t important. I’m saying that math facts are best learned when we understand them and use them in different situations.”

Number sense is developed through “rich” mathematical problems, argues Boaler.

Too much emphasis on rote memorization, she says, inhibits students’ abilities to think about numbers creatively, to build them up and break them down. She cites her own 2009 study, which found that low achieving students tended to memorize methods and were unable to interact with numbers flexibly.

Also, memorizing times tables is boring, turning off high achievers, she believes.

I memorized the times tables in fourth grade. It wasn’t boring, because it didn’t take very long. In recent years, I’ve encountered many students who use calculators for the simplest problems and have no number sense.

## Recent Comments