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Q&A #1543

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Kumon math method

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From: G. Woodford <garyw@attmysite.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2000040209:53:44
Subject: Kumon Math

I am an educator living in Hong Kong. Kumon is a method of learning
math by repetition of very carefully sequenced computational practice.
The emphasis of the program is on accuracy and speed. As someone who
believes in a constructivist approach to learning math, I see a very
significant conflict between Kumon and the development of mathematical
concepts. There is no doubt that Kumon can produce students who
perform standard algorithms with great accuracy and speed, but my
experience has been that this comes at the cost of concept
development. The method of learning does not seem to produce students
who are flexible in mathematical thinking. Students who have been
schooled in Kumon resist attempts to explore alternate ways of solving
problems. A third grader in our school who is going to Kumon outside
of school is 'learning' multiplication and division of fractions with
literally no idea of what the computational processes mean. I question
the methodology of Kumon...but know it is popular with parents and
with those who hold a traditional view of mathematics as being
primarily arithmetic. 

What do you think??
Gary	

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