Being a graduate of a Russian school NN years ago, I just recently came in contact with how they teach math here in a Canadian elementary, through my kids. I am flabbergasted to say the least.

An example of learning algebra in Russia:

The Russians start school at 7.

8 years old, 2nd grade - memorizing multiplication tables by rote. No ifs, ands or buts.

9 years old, 3rd grade - simple word problems to convert into equations and solve - . (Kate has 7 candies. She and Michael have 15 candies in between them. How many candies does Michael have? -> students are supposed to convert

7 + x = 15

x = 15 - 7

x = 8

Later in the year, problems with two unknowns, 2 equations (well, for advanced kids).

10 years old, 4rd grade - starting integers. Long division / long multiplication.

11 years old, 5th grade - integer rules are all memorized ( a(b+c) = ab + ac etc.)

What I see here though is a fear of learning by rote. A fear, or inability to make children to memorize. Or discarded as too abusive?? (we had to memorize poems/texts, as well. I think memory development is wonderful). Not talking about teachers, more about school boards who set the rules. But the teachers have not learned by the rote, neither (since the drills were thrown out in the 80s?) so they basically don't know any better.

How can one never know multiplication tables??? At 8, we'd spend about 2 weeks on a single times table. Each pupil had to stand in front of the class and recite the table. Then we'd move onto the next table. The tables were in your bloodstream after that. I am sure older Canadians/Americans remember the drills, too.

Leaving my kids' math education to their school is unthinkable to me. They would not know how to add/subtract in column by the 4th grade. I teach my kids what I listed above, at home. Yet, my kids' doing it all automatically IS FROWN UPON !!!! I feel so bad for mid/high school students as they have no foundation.

Apparently, the sorry state of math teaching bothers a lot of Canadians, as can be seen in the 600 comments to this article:

**Why Alex can’t add (or subtract, multiply or divide)**