In a message dated 96-04-21 16:21:10 EDT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Lou Talman) writes:
> >Marge, I agree fully up to the point where you bring calculators >into the picture. I guess what I don't get it the difference >between doing hand calculation to learn that 50 * 89 = 89 * 50 on >the one hand and using a calculator on the other hand. The >understanding should be rooted in what multiplication means and on >what it's for--not on how one gets a number. > >
I agree with you except I am seeing a large percentage of students who do not know their multiplication tables. I learned the commutative property (although not its name) when I learned the multiplication tables in early grade school. Now students think they don't need to learn anything as boring as multiplication tables - they will always have calculators.
I learned that multiplication undid division in part through an understanding of multiplication tables again. It is hard for students for whom division has always been a button push to grasp the concept of opposite operations. Oh they can investigate on the calculator but they don't seem to put concepts into permanent memory - its just another button pushing routine.
If we still think it important for students to be able to spell, why is it not equally important that they learn basic math facts?