Make Math Moments Academy › Forums › Full Workshop Reflections › Module 4: Teaching Through Problem Solving to Build Understanding › Lesson 42: Automaticity vs. Memorization › Lesson 42: Automaticity vs. Memorization › Reply To: Lesson 42: Automaticity vs. Memorization

I had a frustration recently with my 11th grade Higher Level IB class the other day that brought to mind the idea of memorization vs automaticity. It was basically solving complicated algebraic expressions (involving radicals, pi, fractions, etc), and they couldn’t see the connections between all the algebra that had gotten them to that point. You don’t get to HL math without being a traditionally “good” algebra student, and probably even someone who enjoys algebraic manipulation. My students had so much experience and success solving algebraic equations with whole numbers, but they just weren’t making the connection between, say, 3x=6 and 5pi/sqrt2=6.
They kept asking for help, and I just kept on writing simpler algebra problems on the board. Eventually, we all came to an AHA moment, but it felt to me as if I was in front of a room of students who had memorized, rather than really understood, algebraic manipulation.