November 28, 2022

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# Master advanced math, but not the multiplication table

– What will be 7×8?

On the contrary, if you can answer this question, it indicates that you were good at learning the small times table in elementary school.

Ida T. Storehaug is a doctoral student at the University of Oslo (UiO) affiliated with the European Research Institute CERN. In other words: she’s very good at math. However, she struggles to answer the above question right away.

– I have experienced that there is a very one-sided focus on building the multiplication table in school. I never felt like it sat down no matter how many times I repeated it.

## Never hit the schedule

On Twitter, a discussion recently surfaced about whether it is necessary to clay in a multiplication table. Many academics with an advanced background in mathematics report that they are not particularly proficient in it.

Ida T. Storehaug says she studied so that it was possible to answer correctly what a 7×8 is on the test, but then the answer became forgotten.

She herself had a father who taught her other ways to get to the answer. I discovered that the fact that it was not necessary to memorize the multiplication table was not something the school cared about.

Today, a small multiplication table fits perfectly, but not all. The answer to what is 7 x 8, among other things, is off. To get to the answer, she first thought of the 7×4 shape. She, too, isn’t sure about that. Then you take 7 x 2 which becomes 14 and multiply by 4.

– That there are different ways to arrive at the answer, I feel it was not conveyed in my math education at school.

She believes that pure espionage means that students do not understand the pattern behind number systems – providing a basis for understanding more mathematics.

## It can be a bit awkward

The disadvantage of not knowing the multiplication table at her fingertips is that she has to spend some time finding the answer.

Previously, she taught high school students who struggle with mathematics.

They did not know the multiplication table and felt served by it Repeatedly. It gave them a bad sense of mastery. If you learn that it is possible to do this in different ways, then mathematics can become more fun. By finding alternative ways of doing math in elementary school, I found the material to be more interesting.

– Do you ever regret not knowing the multiplication table for rams?

– No, it can be a little awkward when you give a lecture and you have to ask the students to take a 7 x 8, Storhaug laughs.

But since she has a pretty good understanding of math otherwise, she doesn’t think it’s embarrassing.

– I think it is good to show that you can have different approaches to a subject. We have different strengths, some have a brain where all of these things stick, and some don’t. However, you can work with physics, mathematics, and science.

On Friday, Ida T. Storehaug will participate in the NRK program at the Abel Tower. There you will talk about historical mathematics. She is fascinated by how different cultures have different number systems, and that we can use a myriad of techniques, all of which are exciting and effective.

## – He can lose heart

The one who started the whole discussion on Twitter doesn’t appear with his full name there, and so he wants to be in Khrono too. But we can use his first name, which is Bjornar and we know his full name.

He says it’s so unexpected and fun that so many people with a science background struggle with scheduling.

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One theory might be that you compensate by doing a lot of mental arithmetic and therefore end up with little flair for math. Or it could be random. Many of those I have studied with have been very good at devising clever solutions to save themselves from the hard work. After all, the wheel was not invented by those who like to carry heavy loads.

Moreover, the civil engineer fears that there are people who may greatly appreciate mathematics, but have already lost their hearts at the first encounter with the multiplication table.

He maintains that these are reflections of what it was like in elementary school when he went there 20 years ago. In addition, there were several who participated in the discussion who also appreciated that they had completed the schedule.

– I know nothing of the nature of the practice today, but I hope and believe that they have moved on from tampering with the oral examination in plenary, which was a horrible experience for a person who cannot do boredom.

## Not efficiency goals

Most schools start with the multiplication table in the fourth and fifth grades. In the new curriculum from 2020, proficiency goals that students must achieve after completing the steps are set. It doesn’t say here that they should learn the multiplication table.

The Norwegian Directorate of Education states that it is up to teachers to determine how to achieve competency goals. But they assume that many students are still learning the multiplication table.

However, the new approaches emphasize that students must understand why they are doing what they are doing and learn to use multiplication to solve problems.

## – Saves time for automation

Do you have to master the multiplication table to be a good mathematician? We ask Frode Rønning, Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education at NTNU.

I think confusing the multiplication table without understanding why 7 x 8 turns into 56 is of little value. There is great value in building an understanding of walking as a structure you can think of. There are many answers for how to solve the passages if you understand how the structure is built.

According to Ronning, there is a lot that can be explained. But then you should have understood the structure. If you do not remember, for example, what 9×9 is, you can think that 10×9 is 90 and the answer to the first calculation is 9 less.

At the same time, he thinks it’s more practical to have these syllables and answer them in your head.

– It is convenient to automate some of the processes because it would take a very long time to rebuild everything from scratch every time.

– For reasons of efficiency, it is practical to have a small multiplication table ready. You use them not only in elementary school, but also at a higher level, for example in algebraic expressions, says Ronning.

## Devil’s work

The debate continues and continues on Twitter. Another civil engineer signed up and stated that he did not know the multiplication table. However, he has a higher education and a Ph.D.

He writes: “Bog is the work of the devil.”

And what about your reading of this – do you remember what a 7 x 8 is?

Updated at 23.00: Interview with the guy who started the whole discussion on Twitter.