Find answers, ask questions, and connect with our
community around the world.


    Posted by Kerri Smith on May 15, 2019 at 6:57 am

    It really bothers me that some teachers jump in to teaching the formal algorithms way too soon. Last year, I was in a year 2 classroom where the teacher was trying to use the subtraction algorithm to work out elapsed time. It simply did not work and the kids had no idea what they were doing! The saddest part was that I asked the teacher if I could chat with the kids after the lesson was completed, and it turned out most of them were able to solve the problem mentally, just by working backwards. When we teach the algorithms, they stop using those mental strategies that are far more efficient! There is also no mention in our curriculum of introducing the algorithms to year 2 students. (Australia)

    Kerri Smith replied 3 years, 8 months ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • George Garza

    May 15, 2019 at 10:53 am

    In my experience those teachers think they are helping the kids by showing them a “shortcut.”  Which is all an algorithm is.  Its very clear, though, that that’s not math.

    The question that needs to be answered is why teach math?  In an era where tech is able to calculate numbers for us, why teach math?  The answer to that should guide how we teach Math, and what students should really be learning.  ( hint: its probably not algorithms)

  • Kerri Smith

    May 16, 2019 at 7:50 am

    I have no doubt that teachers do think they are helping kids, George, and it looks great to be able to say “this child can do formal subtraction,” but if the same child doesn’t know when to use it or whether there is a more efficient way to solve a particular problem, then we have a bigger problem.

    Totally agree with your question…it is not just about being able to calculate, it’s more about being able to pull apart problems and knowing how to solve them…definitely NOT about algorithms!