[Numeracy 234] Re: Knowing your facts / Reducing stereotype threat

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mysbooks at aol.com mysbooks at aol.com
Thu Mar 25 17:41:17 EDT 2010

I admit to be conflicted on the subject of drilling math facts. While I agree it's important, I had a GED student who didn't know his mult. tables. He used estimation and common sense to solve problems at his job. He thought he would never pass the test. I explained that these were important skills for the GED test and we worked on strategies to solve GED problems using what he knew and could do well. He passed.
I've had low level, ABE and ESL students who didn't know mult tables and I taught them to use a calculator while we worked on perimeter and area problems, It was visual and hands on and they were doing meaningful activities. They were excited about doing "real" math instead of just memorizing facts. In today's world, everybody can have a calulator to do basic computations. I would not hold anyone back from doing more interesting and relevant math just because they can't multiply or divide. They need to understand the processes and where they are used and can still practice their tables and facts but they still need to be engaged with the classroom activities.

-----Original Message-----
From: Lauri Schoneck <SchonecL at seminolestate.edu>
To: 'The Math and Numeracy Discussion List' <numeracy at nifl.gov>
Sent: Thu, Mar 25, 2010 12:49 pm
Subject: [Numeracy 233] Re: Knowing your facts / Reducing stereotype threat

Hi all... I agree with Susan. I'm not sure why we (schools &
ducators) try to drill in math facts to adult learners. I appreciate
he need for knowing basic facts (I use my EVERYday), but functional
ath literacy should be our highest priority with adults. Language
cquisition is a limited time offer...once you turn 12 (thereabouts)
hat part of your brain, the Wernicke Center, slows down the acquisition
f language. This answers the question about how children can learn
ultiple languages at an early age and speak each with native fluently,
hile adults who begin to learn a new language will never speak as if
hey are native to that language. Back to math... math is a second
anguage. It has it's own words and symbol sets. Perhaps when an adult
omes to us with little in the way of experience with math facts (up to
ge 12), their brain's opportunity to learn that code/language is
iminished---almost non-existent at that point. Throw in a learning
isability (like dyscalculia) and you have a very frustrated adult who
ay never learn their basic facts fluent enough to pass any test.
So, the point is... It would be great if we could take adult education
o the next level and test (TABE/GED) for functional calculator use
long with functional math concepts and not weigh so heavily on the
omputational math.

:-), Lauri

Lauri M. Schoneck, M.Ed
rofessor, ABE/GED
eminole State College of Florida
anford, FL
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