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  • Kyle Ferreira van Leer

    June 17, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    One of the things that I firmly believe is that automaticity is stronger and more valuable when learning mathematics than memorization. I think, unfortunately, that as a specialized math teacher — rather than being a general ed elementary teacher — allows me a little more privilege when it comes to having this belief. In the US, so much of our elementary education programs that teachers complete focus on literacy, and not so much on mathematics and math development. Therefore, if most elementary teachers are not strong with their foundational mathematics and the conceptual knowledge behind such math, they are more likely to default to memorization. Most likely it’s how they learned and it’s a lot easier to facilitate than having to develop lessons that are deep and conceptual that lend towards automaticity. I believe that we need a change in the system of teacher education if we really want to train our elementary teachers (and many secondary teachers) to focus on automaticity instead of memorization. I think that math illiteracy and fear is the biggest obstacle when it comes to this debate. And it’s frustrating as a middle school teacher to get students who are comfortable with memorization battling the types of lessons that are more conceptual and build automaticity — they feel unsuccessful and get upset!