Mastering Math: Memorization vs. Strategies - iLearn @Home

Mastering Math: Memorization vs. Strategies

iLearn - Mastering Math Infographic

For over a hundred years, everyone has advocated one of two viewpoints when it comes to learning the basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). Those two viewpoints can be generalized as the Memorization Camp and the Strategies Camp.

Memorization Camp: Repetitive practice is a good thing, and it leads to instant recall of facts. That makes it easier to learn math that makes use of the facts.

Getting to “memorization” of the basic facts is done by “rote memorization”. This is repetitive practice in recalling the facts. And when one has “memorized” the facts, one is able to recall them instantly.

Strategies Camp: We shouldn’t be so concerned about instant recall. What matters is the ability to derive answers to the facts, because the side benefit is better understanding of math.

The use of strategies is typically taught through a “discovery” process in which kids are “exposed” to a number of different possible strategies. From this, they are supposed to “adopt” one or more strategies, or invent other strategies themselves.

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Dr. Robert Collins

Bob Collins is a former college professor and research scientist in the Psychology of Learning at Florida State University and Georgia Tech. For the past 30 years, he has been a successful entrepreneur with multiple companies specializing in instruction delivered via the computer and internet. He is the founder and CEO of iLearn, which provides online instruction in math for K-12 schools, parents and students at home, and college developmental math since 1989.

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