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Teaching Mathematics

Teaching Mathematics

Some mathematics educators argue that standard written algorithms (i.e. the final compact methods) for the four rules need not be taught to children as part of the primary curriculum.

1. Does this viewpoint agree or conflict with the philosophy behind the Primary National Strategy.

The Primary National Strategy opposes some mathematics educator’s views on the insignificant of teaching standard written algorithms as they imply that when children leave primary school they should be confident and have a complete understanding of the written methods of calculations. ‘By the end of year 6 children should be equipped with mental written and calculator methods they understand and can use correctly.’ This places great emphasis on the importance that children have in order to learn standard written algorithms in the primary curriculum. However Ian Thompson disagrees with the teachings of written algorithms in the primary curriculum as he incorporates that ‘one of the main reasons for our underperformance in the number tests of international surveys is the very early introduction of formal written calculation methods in this country’ This implies that children cannot fully understand the written process of a standard algorithm at such a young age. Ofsted (1994) supports this and reinforces Thompson (1996 view by stating ‘ Where teaching was poor there was undue pressure on pupils to record mathematics formally before there understanding had been adequately developed.
The National Numeracy Strategy highlights why standard written algorithms should be introduced in the primary curriculum by signifying that ‘as calculations become more complex, written methods become important. Recording in mathematics and in calculation is an important tool both for furthering the understanding of ideas and for communicating those ideas to others.’ This accentuates that the earlier children are introduced to

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