Traditionally taught math is continually referred to by reformers as relying on “rote memorization”. Using a procedure like adding multidigit numbers with carrying involves some memorization but I would hardly call this rote. The only real “rote” memorization going on is perhaps memorizing the math facts. Jo Boaler (and others) speak out of both sides of their mouths, saying “Of course students should know their math facts” and then “But memorization is not a good thing”. No, they would rather that students “fluently derive” their math facts, so that 5 x 3 is not just 15 but 4 x 3 + 3. In that way they don’t lose the meaning/understanding of multiplication. Uh, folks, they really do teach what multiplication is, and then it’s obvious to students that memorization of the math facts helps one apply the procedure of multiplication to solve problems. It really isn’t as isolated an activity that requires “understanding” at every step.
And now Jo Boaler is saying that “research shows” that timed tests do damage to the brain. I’ve asked her for the research supporting that statement. Radio silence.

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