Bye bye chunking?

(85 Posts)
PastSellByDate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:33:55

Wow if I hadn't read about this in the Times education supplement, I wouldn't have believed it but it seems that chunking is being abandoned - officially - link here: www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6316142

Although I will concede that understanding division is multiple subtractions was good - I also know that many children were told they couldn't divide by old fashioned methods (long division - I guess now called short division) - and my children were certainly told their work was wrong.

Was the problem here that a method was adopted which parents were excluded from and which did not allow tried and true old fashioned methods to occur alongside them as well?

Haberdashery Fri 08-Feb-13 12:21:10

It doesn't sound at all complex to me! It sounds like common sense, given a basic understanding of decimals and fractions.

I'm sure someone who was able to do that would also be able to handle the traditional layout and method but I don't think anyone who was at a point where the above was confusing or complex would really benefit from it that much. I'd far rather see them using whatever strategies they had available to try and understand what they are actually doing than blindly applying a method (which I think is what often used to happen when the traditional methods were the only ones taught).

merrymouse Fri 08-Feb-13 12:48:22

So why do people use Fahrenheit?

I thought it was only Americans?

merrymouse Fri 08-Feb-13 12:50:02

And I thought if you had a gas oven you had no choice but to use a gas mark?

lougle Fri 08-Feb-13 12:51:09

I think this is where we conflict. You think that metrication makes maths easier or somehow more straight forward. I think that if you have a sound grasp of a method and what you are doing when you use it, the numbers you use are irrelevant. That means that metrication isn't necessary.

Haberdashery Fri 08-Feb-13 12:58:33

I think if you want an easy method to use which doesn't require you to understand what you're doing then metric units are massively easier. Put a zero on the end to multiply by ten or whatever. Like lougle said earlier in the thread "there seems to have been a definite shift away from 'what works' to 'why it works'". Personally, I think this is entirely positive. I would far rather see children being given the tools to understand arithmetical operations than given a method which works every time but which they don't necessarily understand. If you don't mind whether people understand it or not, then you might as well use a calculator for everything!

alanyoung Fri 08-Feb-13 15:38:35

Haberdashery and Lougle, you are putting words into my mouth. I have never expressed the opinions you give. I think if you re-read what I have said you will find what I am saying is that metrication not only makes maths easier, it also makes it easier to understand. Imperial units make things over complicated, stop children seeing that we live in a metric world, greatly reduce the opportunities to practise maths in the home and result in many giving up and saying they can't do maths.

My own children were brought up in the seventies when the emphasis on imperial units in schools was much less than it is now (believe it or not) and they both ended up with excellent maths qualifications because we used to do lots of simple arithmetical exercises in the car and at home.

There is another problem with imperial units that I have not mentioned in this thread and it is that scales on weighing machines (analogue) etc are much more difficult to read because two scales are placed side by side. On measuring tapes it is even worse because you will see that inches are always placed at the top and centimetres underneath. This means that the units most people use for measurement are at the bottom of the tape when it is much easier to use if the scale you want is on the top. It also reduces the size of the figures on the scale. If you use a metric only tape measure, you will find it much easier to use, as over six billion people in the rest of the world do.

We seem to have a passion in this country for making access to maths much more difficult than in other countries and because we are British we are proud of it. It's quite ridiculous really.

Here's another example. When you ask young children how tall they are, if they have measured themselves at school they will give it to you in metres or metres and centimetres. If you ask adults, they will normally give it to you in feet and inches. But there is a point somewhere in between - usually between about 14 and 18 years old - when they won't give you the answer. When you ask them why not, those that will tell you say it is because they don't know what units to use. What good is that? If you go to other countries and ask people of all ages how tall they are, they always give it in metres, 'I'm 1.79 m', for example. (US excepted, of course).

Another example: Have you noticed how television and monitor screens are always given in inches when every part of the screen and all the electronics etc have been designed and manufactured in metric units?

alanyoung Fri 08-Feb-13 15:40:18

Haberdashery, you will never hear me say, 'Add a Nought' to multiply by ten! So please don't intimate that this is what I said.

According to that rule, 3.14 x 10 = 3.140 !

lougle Fri 08-Feb-13 16:14:48

" But there is a point somewhere in between - usually between about 14 and 18 years old - when they won't give you the answer. When you ask them why not, those that will tell you say it is because they don't know what units to use"

I know I'm 5'8" or 1.72m or 172cm - I was taught. Furthermore, if people have trouble with having two scales on a tape measure, then they simply need to be taught to read it carefully.

How long do you spend thinking up these examples? It really isn't the terrible thing you imagine to have to learn the 12 times table and the 14 times table. Children can always choose to partition it up, so that they are in fact calculating (10 x a) + (2 x a), etc.

alanyoung Fri 08-Feb-13 17:14:55

Lougle, I don't need to make up these examples, they are all around us. Once you open your eyes to them, you see them everywhere. For example, this morning on the Today programme they announced the discovery of a rodent creature millions of years old and they said that it weighed 'half a pound'. The point here is that the scientists who did the work would have done the calculations in metric and some joker at the BBC has converted this to an imperial unit. Why can't they leave it in metric so that our children can relate it to something they understand and have learnt at school, thus reinforcing their learning, instead of confusing them by using units they don't understand?

In fact, one of the worst offenders in this respect is the BBC. They mix and match units all the time. Children need to see a proper system of units being used in the correct manner if they are to learn about maths and science.

Now I don't claim to be an expert in anything. I don't actually believe in the concept of an 'expert' because no matter how good you are, there is always an awful lot more to learn. But I do have a certain amount of experience in this field. I have taught mathematics to thousands of children in several age groups over thirty years and I can assure you that many, many of them are completely confused by measurement because of this imperial/metric business. Not only that, adults are confused too. My accountant and his brother run their own business and as they are fully qualified chartered accountants, they are pretty intelligent guys. They both say, however, that they are confused my the measurement systems in this country! It's not just the kids that are having problems.

Again, Lougle, you are putting words into my mouth. I have never said that children should never learn the 12 and 14 times tables. What I say on this subject is that all children should learn the tables up to 10 x 10 and if they are able, it is good for them to learn the square numbers up to 20 x 20 because of Pythagoras' Theorem. If they really want to go on and learn their 12 and 14 times tables (or any other for that matter) that's fine by me. Well done them!

I sometimes I feel I am pushing a boulder uphill here and as my mother in law used to say, 'Someone convinced against their will is of the same opinion still'.

For that reason, I am going to stop commenting on this subject for a while now, but I can tell you (with the backing of experience behind me) that those parents who insist on using imperial units for all the situations we have discussed will have to do a lot of extra work with their children on the conversions and the understanding of what measurement using two systems is all about if they are not to fall behind others who use only metric. Not something in my experience that many parents are willing to do, I find. In fact, many parents are so confused by all this that they are not willing to even give this a try.

If you are and you do, I wish you the best of luck.

See you in another thread.

pennygallops Fri 08-Feb-13 19:57:33

I love a bit of chunking - taught it this week to my more able Year 3s. And for the record the 7 in 72 is 70 not 7 and there lies the problem with maths. Children need to understand the value of numbers and the concepts of calculation not follow procedures.
My pet hate is saying multiplying by 10 is 'sticking' a 0 on the end!! Arghhhhhh!!!

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