Daily Prompt : Automatic

In response to daily post’s one-word prompt : Automatic

During my years in teaching, one thing I found kids had difficulty learning is the multiplication table. I could never understand why such a simple thing gave my pupils so much grief.

I told them, ‘do not make it boring, try to learn it a bit differently. For instance if you are learning five times table. challenge yourself by skipping, instead of five times one to twelve in order, you learn by five times six or five times three. In the beginning you will make mistakes but keep challenging yourself to a point, when the answer is at the tip of your tongue, you don’t even have to think. It will become automatic.’

Rote memory is boring, children esp.  young ones get fed up when they make a mistake, they tend to give up. Learning something should be fun, not tedious.

The same things go for spelling where one must think phonetically. If they think about the sounds in each word, they might still spell a word wrong but they won’t try to spell a word with an ‘R’, sound by starting with a ‘T’.

Some mothers of my kids spent over an hour teaching their kids how to spell twenty words from Saturday to Friday. I can’t imagine learning to spell twenty words every day for an hour. It reduces the motivation of the kids, as a result they cannot even spell simple words correctly.

When I was in lower grades the nuns used the method of teaching where they gave us less time to learn spelling and multiplication tables. In multiplication we were allowed to look at the table three or four times, after the time was up, they did not tell us to recite the tables from one to twelve, but they would test us by asking us five times twelve, or five times six, until they covered the whole thing. It made us concentrate and because one particular kid was not expected to recite the whole thing but all of us were given a chance to see who was doing better. We competed against each other, until we didn’t have to think but unconsciously knew the answer. It’s a fun way of learning and no one is stressed out.

Spelling is different, it deals with letters and sounds, so kids must know the sound of each letter to be able to learn how to spell correctly. I’m not in favor of grinding the word in their brain, which instantly makes them hate it.

Grinding works for Nadal when he plays tennis, it works for him,  not because there was any tactics involved but he stays at the back of the court hitting the ball time after time, until his opponent tries the same thing and fails, for he’s simply bored and loses energy to keep it up.

Learning multiplication tables is hard when you use the grinding method. It’s boring, time consuming and the brain simply thinks it’s irrelevant to our goal, therefore filters it, the result one doesn’t know the all important multiplication tables!

………………………………. 🙂