Math Facts - Why memorize?

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Poohbee
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Math Facts - Why memorize?

Unread post by Poohbee » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:30 am

momma2kact wrote:"Why" do we memorize math facts? Is it just for speed? And if so--why do we need to have the speed? This may seem obvious to others, but I just don't quite understand the "why" it's so important? Every time I hear "memorize math facts" I think of all of the times I've heard people say that they memorized the info., passed the test, and forgot the info. That is just not at all what I want for my kids!

I do really feel it's important to understand "how" to work math problems! I really want them to "know how" to do things, and to enjoy learning(which they do). My oldest has a hard time memorizing(or maybe not so much, but his little sister is just better at it then him......) anyway, he is good at math and enjoys it, and I want to keep it that way! Forcing the math facts memorization would make him "not like" math anymore......

Looking forward to your thoughts :)
Debbie
It becomes really important to know those basic math facts well when you start doing higher math. You need to know the basic math facts when doing longer multiplication and division problems, and other higher math, as well. It simply takes much longer to do those tougher problems if you do not have automatic recall of the basic math facts, and it results in a great deal of frustration. Also, if you do not know the basic math facts well, it could lead to small mistakes in calculation when working longer problems. I observed this first hand when I taught fifth grade in the public schools. I drilled the basic math facts, even with my fifth graders. And, the kids who did not know their math facts well got really frustrated when doing long multiplication and division problems.

More than that, we use basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts often in every day life. You don't want to have to pull out a calculator every time you need to figure out a simple addition problem. Knowing those math facts is an important life skill.

My dd (age 7, doing Adventures this year) does not enjoy our math drills to learn those basic facts. She dreads when I pull out the flashcards 2-3 times a week. But, I know that she will need to know those math facts as the math gets more difficult. Automatic, accurate recall of the basic math facts is so important so that she will not experience even more frustration further down the line.

Just my humble opinion. I wouldn't push it if it turns your son off to math, but I would certainly keep pursuing it with him. It is an important skill and will be important later on.
Jen
happily married to Vince (19 yrs)
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2018-2019: Adventures with 9yo boy

wisdomschool
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Unread post by wisdomschool » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:45 am

Thanks Jen,

I totally agree with the need to "know" math facts(maybe I'm making this harder than it really is:)

I just don't like the term "memorize" math facts! I don't have this trouble with anything else--I think memorizing is great(songs, poems,scripture, etc...)

It sounds like what your saying is the drill for math facts is "learning" the math facts(very important--necessary educational tool!) rather than "we need to memorize our math facts"!

I guess if my son "knows" the math facts to me that is very different from "memorizing them"! For example: anyone could "memorize" the math facts, yet not really understand the "why" it adds up this way etc...


Debbie
Momma & Teacher to my super seven:

Kanen-6th
Abia-4th
Charis-3rd
Tobias-1st
Elijah-3 y.o.
Micah-2 y.o.
Eden-3 mo.

LA in Baltimore
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Unread post by LA in Baltimore » Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:32 pm

I guess "memorize the math facts" really does mean understand how to use them AND be able to use them VERY QUICKLY!

In higher level math (and in real life) it is very important to be able to know your facts.

Academic Example = Quadratic Equation (Algebra2)
X = -B + or - the square root of B squared - (4 times A times C) divided by 2A

If you can't do adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing pretty quickly you'll be spendind hours just to calculate this one formula!


Real Life Example = You're at the store and spend $13.86. You give the checker $20.00. He or She hands you back your change. Don't assume it's right! I always figure it out in my head. Sometimes they short me, sometimes they short themselves.

Great opportunity to witness, by the way, when you explain to them they gave you too much money!!

In the Real life scenario you would have to know WHICH operation do to (+,-,*, or /) as well as HOW to do it.

Hope that helps,
Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
Currently enjoying Rome to the Reformation
Graduated oldest May 2010, Three more to go!

wisdomschool
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Unread post by wisdomschool » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:41 pm

All of this is helpful to me--thank you!

I think the trouble I have wrapping my mind around and/or accepting the need for math facts memorization is that "if my son knows that 4+4=8", and he knows this because we have been counting things and talking about everyday math his whole life! And singapore teaches this very well also with their pictures etc....Why does he need to "memorize" math facts(such as I drill him, and we talk about the facts everyday or three times a week etc...)

The "memorize" idea sounds to me like you work on memorizing the answers to problems that are harder than what you are able to figure out easily on your own or answers that you just know(because you've learned it!) I suppose the idea is to make it easier to do the problems when you get to them, but I guess my argument is that "wouldn't it be better to have it in your mind, "memorized" because you've learned it and you "know" 4x4=16. Not you can answer quickly because it's been memorized or ingrained in your brain....(but perhaps you don't really "know" why 4x4=16...)

I thank you all for "putting up with me" on this! I question alot of things, because I simply "don't do things just because there done by everyone else" I "need" to understand the "why" we do something! (I am this way in all aspects of life--I even asked my pastor when my husband and I went through premarital counseling "why" it was that the bride carried flowers? He didn't know! I did carry flowers, but I didn't wear shoes:)

Blessings,
Debbie
Momma & Teacher to my super seven:

Kanen-6th
Abia-4th
Charis-3rd
Tobias-1st
Elijah-3 y.o.
Micah-2 y.o.
Eden-3 mo.

cbollin

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:20 pm

My turn to ramble a bit. :-)
wouldn't it be better to have it in your mind, "memorized" because you've learned it and you "know" 4x4=16. Not you can answer quickly ....snip
yes. I think I agree with that to some extent.

Think of this:Why do we learn the alphabet and know it by "memory"? Because we need to read and write quickly. Why do we learn how to put words together when we speak? In order to speak fluently in a language. If I want to speak in a foreign language, I need to not just understand the concepts, I need to use it as speed of life.
Same thing with the math facts. As we learn the math facts, we are able to use those facts as part of the language of math problems. Speed will be important in order to be fluent in math problems.

Both concept and speed are important.
Put the priority on concept first when they are youngest.
then learning them with speed is secondary to that.
Given that your oldest is 8, it is time to work on the memory if you are not already doing so. I'm assuming you have been working on concepts for a while.

Drill and memory at 8 years old does not have to be just spewing out the facts. It can be done with blocks as needed. Music and song to help with recall. Games, charts to look up tough stuff, etc.

so, no, the goal is not to spew it out quickly for the sake of spewing out facts quickly. The goal is to know them quickly to be fluent in using them in life.

-crystal
Last edited by cbollin on Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:21 pm

momma2kact wrote:The "memorize" idea sounds to me like you work on memorizing the answers to problems that are harder than what you are able to figure out easily on your own or answers that you just know(because you've learned it!)
I want to continue to push you a little further towards memorization of those "easy" to figure out math facts :o)

Your student doesn't just need to be able to figure it out fast. He needs to know it without thinking about it.

Kinda like when my kids learn how to drive. I tell them that the first year or so, they will be thinking about every step they take. This is not a good driver. After a year or so, the basics will become so automatic that they don't need to think about them. THEN they can focus on the complicated stuff -- other drivers and all the unexpected changes that come along. THAT is a good driver!

Your student needs to know those facts well enough that he spends absolutely zero brain cells on them, so all his brain cells can be focusing on other parts of the problem.

For example, some of the higher Singapore word problems require keeping track of two different "people" traveling different distances at different rates, and maybe even traveling at different rates during different parts of each trip. If your student wants to do a problem like that in a minute or two (because there are 30 problems in the review he's doing), he needs to be thinking about ratios and proportions and fractions, with the math facts just popping out automatically!

Julie
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wisdomschool
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Unread post by wisdomschool » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:19 pm

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!

Crystal, being fluent--that made so much since to me, I am totally sold on memorizing math facts now! Thank you again! And Julie, having it right there so you don't have to think about it makes sense too--thanks!
Momma & Teacher to my super seven:

Kanen-6th
Abia-4th
Charis-3rd
Tobias-1st
Elijah-3 y.o.
Micah-2 y.o.
Eden-3 mo.

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