City-Data Forum Are multiplication tables still "drilled" in elementary? (degrees, private school, mathematics)
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02-13-2013, 09:35 AM
 Location: San Marcos, TX 2,570 posts, read 7,610,108 times Reputation: 4058

Just curious.

When I was in 3rd grade we spent what seemed like a VERY LONG TIME (not sure what it was in reality) memorizing the multiplication tables. We had an entire wall in the classroom with the chart on it, similar to what this kid is standing on :

I don't recall if I had any real understanding of multiplication at that point, but I remember every day in class we all stood and faced the chart and "chanted" it in unison, starting with the twos. Then I went home and drilled some more. Then my mom quizzed me with flashcards. I really don't remember much about elementary school (except that i was always in trouble for talking too much) but I remember THIS.

From that point forward I had it down.

I've posted about my later math struggles but one thing that has never been a problem was knowing what __ times ___ is instantly.

Now, I have three kids (20, 15, and 10) who do NOT know their multiplication tables like I did, and they've been in both private school and a public charter. I have worked with them at home with flashcards but as far as I know, from what they have told me and what I have seen, they never did this intense and repetitive memorization. Are we no longer drilling and pushing memorization? I'm not big on rote memorization for many things but I think this is one case where it is a very good idea. The last thing you need later on is to be presented with a complex equation and having to stop and figure out that 8 times 7 is 8+8+8+8+8+8+8 slowly and methodically. It needs to pop into your head so you can get on with other things, am I right?

Yeah it was super boring at the time but it worked. Can people who teach in or have kids in more traditional school settings tell me what you have experienced?

02-13-2013, 09:38 AM
 Location: Henderson, NV 156 posts, read 392,029 times Reputation: 102
In my experience - no they don't have kids memorize multiplication tables anymore...... I had to make my kids tables and drill them at home.

02-13-2013, 11:48 AM
 4,043 posts, read 7,289,887 times Reputation: 3897
I don't know - but if they don't, they should.

We will have to do it at home. One more thing schools no longer do and parents have do at home.

02-13-2013, 12:09 PM
 Location: A coal patch in Northern Appalachia 9,773 posts, read 9,992,094 times Reputation: 11985
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Sally_Sparrow Just curious. When I was in 3rd grade we spent what seemed like a VERY LONG TIME (not sure what it was in reality) memorizing the multiplication tables. We had an entire wall in the classroom with the chart on it, similar to what this kid is standing on : I don't recall if I had any real understanding of multiplication at that point, but I remember every day in class we all stood and faced the chart and "chanted" it in unison, starting with the twos. Then I went home and drilled some more. Then my mom quizzed me with flashcards. I really don't remember much about elementary school (except that i was always in trouble for talking too much) but I remember THIS. From that point forward I had it down. I've posted about my later math struggles but one thing that has never been a problem was knowing what __ times ___ is instantly. Now, I have three kids (20, 15, and 10) who do NOT know their multiplication tables like I did, and they've been in both private school and a public charter. I have worked with them at home with flashcards but as far as I know, from what they have told me and what I have seen, they never did this intense and repetitive memorization. Are we no longer drilling and pushing memorization? I'm not big on rote memorization for many things but I think this is one case where it is a very good idea. The last thing you need later on is to be presented with a complex equation and having to stop and figure out that 8 times 7 is 8+8+8+8+8+8+8 slowly and methodically. It needs to pop into your head so you can get on with other things, am I right? Yeah it was super boring at the time but it worked. Can people who teach in or have kids in more traditional school settings tell me what you have experienced?
I had the same experience in 3rd grade. You had to repeat 3rd grade if you didn't have them down perfect. There were 4-5 kids in my 3rd grade class who flunked the previous year.

Today is very different. Many kids are getting through school without knowing their multiplication tables, and also division, fractions, etc. Basic math is still being taught, and students have the standardized NCLB tests, which should pick up the deficiencies. My theory is kids spend less time on basic math than kids did in the 1960s, despite all the emphasis on STEM today. They are also being taught math concepts in elementary school that kids in the 1960s did not learn until junior high. Some kids learn the material while others get pushed through. My other theory is the use of calculators has resulted in kids not having to memorize multiplication tables.

Kids should actually be much more proficient with math today because of the many excellent computer programs that allow students to progress at their own pace. They are not being forced to go up to the chalkboard and do problems in front of the class.

02-13-2013, 01:41 PM
 Location: On the Chesapeake 43,351 posts, read 57,596,667 times Reputation: 58723
My juniors and seniors through this year have had them drilled (I use them to demonstrate long-term memory in Psych class).

02-13-2013, 01:49 PM
 2,260 posts, read 2,433,997 times Reputation: 2620
Your post brought back memories of being quizzed on the way to school.

02-13-2013, 02:43 PM
 Location: The New England part of Ohio 23,518 posts, read 31,194,442 times Reputation: 66377
No they were not drilled into my children's heads in our school district. ( The Three Village School district, Stony Brook NY; one of the highest rated school districts in NY State) They did cover them, but my children were not tortured with the "times tables" as we were. I am glad that precious class time was not spent on wrote memorization.

They are not needed. We have calculators today, and many of us have them on our phones. no need for this. Memorize something of beauty instead, Try a poem. It will bring you happiness, at least.

02-13-2013, 03:29 PM
My daughter learned songs for the multiplication tables. There are different songs for each multiplier. Most were taught in 2nd grade, including a song for square roots! She's in 4th grade now.

02-13-2013, 05:31 PM
 3,281 posts, read 6,148,961 times Reputation: 2410
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sheena12 No they were not drilled into my children's heads in our school district. ( The Three Village School district, Stony Brook NY; one of the highest rated school districts in NY State) They did cover them, but my children were not tortured with the "times tables" as we were. I am glad that precious class time was not spent on wrote memorization. They are not needed. We have calculators today, and many of us have them on our phones. no need for this. Memorize something of beauty instead, Try a poem. It will bring you happiness, at least.
I am generally not in favor of rote memorization, but I 100% firmly believe that every child needs to know the multiplication table at least through 10 x 10, and probably a little bit more. Multiplication facts are key to so many pieces of mathematics content that kids just need to have them down pat. IMO, more time will be wasted when they have to reach for a calculator every time in their school career that they need to do basic multiplication.

02-13-2013, 05:50 PM
 Location: A coal patch in Northern Appalachia 9,773 posts, read 9,992,094 times Reputation: 11985
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Clevelander17 I am generally not in favor of rote memorization, but I 100% firmly believe that every child needs to know the multiplication table at least through 10 x 10, and probably a little bit more. Multiplication facts are key to so many pieces of mathematics content that kids just need to have them down pat. IMO, more time will be wasted when they have to reach for a calculator every time in their school career that they need to do basic multiplication.
I have to agree. I think it is critical to be able to do simple arithmetic in your head. I see kids counting on their fingers to do basic arithmetic. Other than reading, what subject in all of your schooling is more important than simple arithmetic?

In regard to memorization, it raises the question in my mind whether students should memorize spelling words and take spelling tests? My wife has two master's degrees but has trouble with spelling. Why should kids be forced to memorize spelling words when most of their writing will be on a computer and they will have a spell checker?
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