Math in the United States has been taught via memorization for decades. Memorize multiplication facts. Memorize addition tricks. Memorize procedures. Memorize songs for procedures. Memorize dances for procedures. I've seen them all, and I've heard good arguments for them all, but I disagree. I am not saying that math students should not memorize, I am saying DO NOT teach via memorization.

Teaching math through memorization causes problems for all students. Clearly if a student struggles with recall, and that is the way that the math is being taught...they will not learn. Those who can memorize will "excel" in math up to a certain point. These students will eventually hit a wall and will struggle with their ability to memorize procedures because of the difficulty of mathematics. They have not developed problem-solving skills therefore they suddenly have a very hard time in math class.

So...if you should not teach via memorization then how should you teach? Teach problem solving to the point of understanding. If students can explain the "why" to a procedure then they own the concept. I find that many math teachers don't know the "why". This is a huge problem. Dig into the material and learn it backwards and forwards. You need to own the material before you expect your kids to own it. Take the time and analyze your math lesson plans. Identify material that you teach through memorization and figure out a different way to teach it. Your students will benefit from your extra work.

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