The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Kids understand multi-digit numbers as early as age 3 ??? Researchers' blunder.
Replies: 2   Last Post: Dec 24, 2013 5:02 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI

Posts: 220
Registered: 9/13/10
Re: Kids understand multi-digit numbers as early as age 3 ??? Researchers' blunder.
Posted: Dec 24, 2013 1:27 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply


I have no reservations about early childhood development including the
learning of geometric shapes that adults know as "alphabet letters" or as
"Arabic digits" ... if only by exploring keyboards of computers and
calculators and cellphones.

As the child evolves, there comes a time when it is easy and "natural" (in
today's world) for children to learn that such geometric shapes are commonly
used to represent things ... "A is for apples." Not far behind is beginning
to learn how such characters are (can be) strung together by using
successive *places * ... with the strings having meanings of their own.
Down the line comes learning how to *pronounce* some such strings [scrabble
& digit-tiles] ... and learning how such strings are alphabetically ordered.
Although all of such learning can be nurtured at pre-school levels, it does
not become imperative until children formally encounter "spelling" and
multi-place Arabic numerals.

However, it is not until children reach a "conservation" level ... roughly,
grade 3 ... when they can internalize the notions that the *places* can be
assigned numeric values ... as "place values." That is why Grade-2 teachers
always have had trouble teaching "place values." It is beyond the
comprehension of children who have not yet reached the "conservation" stage.

It is bad enough that the Achieve Corporation's mathematics "standards" for
American schools start the teaching of "place values" at primary-school
levels ... so prompting under-informed schools to inundate the very young
with mathematical meanderings that are beyond their abilities to comprehend.

But now, some mathematically confused researchers are thinking that age-3
children perceive "place values", merely because some children know how to
alphabetically order some multi-place numerals. The danger from researchers'
mistakes of that kind is that ill-informed teacher educators, curriculum
designers, authors, education officers, and researchers might use such
mistakes as grounds for trying to press the teaching of place values even
into pre-school levels.

Nationwide under-education and mis-education of mathematics-educators, in
the mathematics of "place values", has always hurt most children, and "CCSS"
threatens to worsen that plight. So, what we don't need is for
mathematically under-educated researchers to lead us deeper into that swamp.


- --------------------------------------------------
From: "GS Chandy" <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 1:01 AM
To: <>
Subject: [SPAM]Re: Kids understand multi-digit numbers as early as age 3

> To me it appears that Clyde Greeno is entirely correct in his assessment
> that the claim in the article appears to be just "Poppycock!" - as
> implied in Domenico Rosa's comment as well ("It seems that the solution to
> U.S. pseudo-education in arithmetic may lie with three-year-olds" - dt.
> Dec 23, 2013 10:23 PM,
> I believe that children at the age of three have plenty of things to learn
> about themselves (about their own bodies and intellects) AND about the
> world around them rather than studying multi-digit numbers and their
> formal representation, etc.
> The article leads to the fear that - if its conclusions are accepted by
> the powers-that-be in education - primary schools will now force children
> at age three to study place-valued digits and stuff like that whether or
> not they are interested in these things that some adults have decreed they
> are ready to learn!
> May I suggest that these 'experts' should seriously look at the way
> mothers teach their infant children from birth onwards, before they come
> out with these poppycock suggestions about how they should be exposed to
> math ideas. If they do not have the imagination to do that, they might do
> well to absorb the wisdom that Maria Montessori brought to 'child
> learning'.

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.