I recently listened again to a talk given at an ASCD National conference by Iris Carl when she was NCTM President.
She is absolutely clear: NCTM has NEVER suggested that children do not need to learn multiplication tables and other simple computation facts. They do need them. We all use them.
My note: However, there are those who would suggest that the Standards give kids an excuse not to learn these facts and teachers and excuse not to teach them. Unfortunate. Misunderstood.
There are those who think kids still need to do long division with 4 or 5 digit divisors just because that's "what we did in the good old days." Unfortunate. Nonsense.
There are also those who suggest that the only way to learn these facts is with isolated practice unrelated to anything the child is actually doing. Unfortunate. That's not the best way to help most children learn.
Most teachers will find greater success if they teach the facts in a variety of contexts--as the Standards suggest. As an example, an area model is one appropriate model for teaching multiplication.... with whole numbers, with decimals, with fractions, with algebraic expressions(much more effective than FOIL).
Steve Cottrell Mathematics Supervisor K-12 Davis School District P.O. Box 588 Farmington, UT 84025-0588