Ban times tables test...

O dear - it seems that even academics are not above encouraging the press to hyperventilate a bit with Jo Boaler being interviewed for TES and then the subsequent hyperbole - for example here, here and here. Just look at the comments on the Daily Mail page for example.

Perhaps the most telling quote from the TES is:

"It is not terrible to remember maths facts; what is terrible is sending kids away to memorise them and giving them tests on them which will set up this maths anxiety."

We would advocate knowing number facts as building confidence and so flexibility in numeracy. That allows the mind to consciously focus on the numerical problem whilst leaving working memory to pull the requisite facts out to work with. Just watch anyone work on the multiplication of large numbers and it becomes so much easier knowing the facts.

We wouldn't argue with bad teaching (requirement to undertake boring tasks) or the stress that testing can induce. The latter though is a fact of life and all students will have to face it, so the more used to testing they become the better. And that is in the sense of not high stakes testing, but just doing tests as part of everyday learning and being relaxed about it.

So a challenge Jo - please please come to some of the schools using Number.fy to see how there is a love learning, playing with number facts, taking place and that it is fun, easy and painless for a class of 30 to answer 180,000 questions in a school year and know their number facts - from age 7.