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Q&A #1543

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Kumon math method

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From: G. Woodford

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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