Maths without understanding

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
As one of the "furious experts" referred to by Anita Straker I notice that, in her attempt to show emphasis on standard methods is not new, she uses this National Numeracy Strategy quote: "The aim is that for each of the four operations, as many children as possible can, by the age of 11, carry out a standard written method".

As former director of the NNS, she knows this quote was an "improved"

version of an earlier one that said "all children" rather than "as many...

as possible". Also, in a later version "standard written method" was replaced by "compact written method", producing an aim I think many "furious experts" might agree with. This, however, is a long way from the argument in the paper quoted in the original article: that all children will be ready to learn the standard written algorithms by the age of 11.

Professor Ian Thompson

Woodlands, Milfield Road

Riding Mill, Northumberland

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