Yes, We’re for Testing Times Tables
How important is testing times tables?
Is it crazy to test children on their times tables using a five minute exam? This is what some 7,000 Year 4 children from 250 schools across the UK are going to have to do, according to government plans. The measure has received criticism from some teachers who say they are afraid that children will stop finding numbers fun. However, others have welcomed the change as a way to ensure that children solidify their knowledge in maths, allowing them to face greater challenges later on.
The new measure will be voluntary for any school that wishes to start testing times tables in June 2019, but will become obligatory in 2020. Interestingly, the top government official who announced the measure, Nick Gibb, refused to answer a multiplication question during a live TV interview, which prompted the hostess to question why eight year-old children would be required to know their times tables. Of course, as Peter Hitchens writes, maybe we should ask the same of the presenters sometime.
Among those in favour of the change, there are those who talk of muscle memory that improves retention of the times tables which in turn helps children solve complicated operations more quickly.
Katharine Birbalsingh, one of the most prominent head teachers in the UK and founder of the Michaela Community School, was surprised by the criticism. Testing, as she says, is the only way of knowing whether or not children have mastered their times tables or spellings, and therefore what to focus on in class.
In fact, Smartick is a daily test. Yes, we test multiplication tables and we teach how to do them conceptually.
At Smartick, we believe that children can be taught to multiply in a way that’s interesting and fun, as well as understand that knowing their times tables makes it much easier to progress later on. Therefore, we are clearly in favour of the new multiplication tests. We also don’t believe that children are stressed. We have never received that feedback from our children, who really appreciate having more confidence in class. The world needs better maths education for children, and we’re here to give it.