Teaching math requires skill, understanding

Today, many parents are making the choice to home school their children. I like the public school but I also respect a parent that decides to be their childs teacher. Your child or children are yours forever. Children in public schools, religious schools, other private schools, or at home need to learn and perform mathematics to a high degree of proficiency. Training teachers, parents, and others working with children, correctly is the key to student success.

Last Monday, I was visiting New Jersey and working with a group of teaching assistants. These hard working people have many names. One is a teaching assistant, another is paraeducator or classroom aide. The group that I was working with usually worked with students in the fifth and sixth grade that are having no end of troubles with mathematics. These people often have the least amount of training (and we wonder why our students do not get better). This particular school system is finally realizing that it needs to change its ways; many times these people are also requested to keep their particular students up to speed with the rest of the class.

It just happened that these particular teaching assistants were working with fractions. Each and everyone of these adults indicated that they disliked math.

One brave woman admitted something that was disturbing to me: Take multiplication of fractions; it makes no sense at all. When you multiply things they always get larger, but when you multiply a fraction by a fraction you get a smaller fraction. Can you explain this?

The process of learning to multiply has been murdered over the past several years. Multiplication is simply a quick way of adding. If I asked you to add 6+6+6+6 the answer would be 24. What is the question you are being asked to solve? You are being asked to determine the sum of four groups of six ones. Our number system makes it necessary to record this answer as two 10s and four ones and we give this result, the number 24.

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