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Rote learning for maths 'not necessary'

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Learning sums by heart will not necessarily make children any better at maths, it has been suggested.

Research carried out by the Institute of Education found that primary school pupils can do well at maths, even if they do not learn sums by rote.

The national curriculum currently requires students to learn addition and subtraction facts between 0 and 20 by heart.

However, the research indicates that pupils do better when they understand number concepts.

Professor Richard Cowen explained: "Understanding that in the counting sequence six is more than five - that makes you know that five plus one is six and that six minus five is one," he added.

"Many people agree with the traditional view and think children should spend more time learning facts to become competent in arithmetic and progress in mathematics."

Mr Cowen noted that the study carried out by the Institute of Education does not support the traditional view.

He pointed out that although the study is not suggesting that fact knowledge is irrelevant, it does indicate that it "develop more slowly than the national curriculum allows".

"If parents want to help their children succeed at maths, then they should encourage them to use their knowledge of principles to solve problems, not get them to memorise the answers to problems like parrots," Mr Cowen continued.

It was revealed earlier this year that there has been an increase in the number of students studying A-level maths, with exam entries rising by 7.4 per cent this year, compared to 2010.


Published On 07/09/2011

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