What the children have been told to do is to turn the problem into a ‘number sentence’—in my day, we called those ‘equations’—and then solve it. It’s much more creative and stimulating.
What’s fascinating is that not only is there no correct problem to ask—it’s whatever kids want to solve—but all strategies are allowed when attacking the problem. Children are not told, as they used to be, that there is only one way to get the answer. And if the answer is incorrect, the teacher language is less scolding.
Alex Bellos has a fascinating program on BBC in which he looks at the way mathematics is currently being taught in UK schools.
The purpose of introducing methods like chunking and grid multiplication is to go slower when teaching children the fundamentals of arithmetic, so they understand it more deeply and consequently are less scared of it.
I love the idea of getting students to slow down to improve their learning. This actually has me excited about my son going to school to learn math.