A lot of us are writing about education today - I don't know why. My post is prompted by an article in today's Guardian by Peter Bradshaw - 'I can't do my times tables and I don't care.'
I agree with him, and with Rachel, Gwil and Cro, all of whom say similar things about education in different ways.
Bradshaw argues that times tables are completely useless and that number bonds (i.e. ways of making ten - e.g. 7+3 or 8+2) are more important.
How I feel having taught in Comprehensive schools for all my working life, is that much of what we learn is pretty useless unless we happen to be about to make a career in the particular subject.
For example - a student who wishes to be a doctor needs (presumably) science subjects across the board, whereas someone who intends to become a
Librarian needs a very good grounding in English.
But what we all need, without a shadow of doubt, is to learn how to learn, to be given a grounding in developing an enquiring mind and given the 'tools' to take it further.
From all my schooling I have always thought that times tables and number bonds were perhaps the most useful things I learnt, alongside the urge to be constantly learning, using the skills I was given.
Many is the time when, out with my friends, times tables crop up when working something out (dare I say often dividing up the lunch bill!!) and somebody usually says - good job I know my tables.
Are they still taught in school or are they one of the things that has fallen by the wayside? I know there was a time in Junior schools when if something interesting cropped up a good teacher was able (becoming aware of how the children were all so fascinated by it) to drop her planned lessons and concentrate wholly on the thing that had caught their imagination, working maths, english, history, geography, outdoor skills, art - the lot - all into a 'project'. I doubt this is possible any more. And I really wonder whether children do chant their tables until they know them
What is your view on tables and number bonds - are they essential or have you managed without them. I know a lot of students who left school with minimum qualifications in these skills and then would turn up on the check out at Tesco a few months after they left when I went to do my shopping.