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Summary of Reference

Anghileri, Julia

Issues in Teaching Multiplication and Division

Bibliographic data:
Anghileri, J. (1999). Issues in teaching multiplication and division. In I. Thompson (Ed.). Issues in teaching numeracy in primary schools (pp.184-194). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Although calculators may ease the burden of ‘number crunching’, they do not give any understanding of the way numbers work and they do not give a necessary grounding in number processes to allow the curriculum to be mastered.

This chapter discusses strategies to allow children to become proficient in the concepts of numbers rather than merely applying rules in their problem solving.

Mental strategies are important and should be taught early. As children get older and more familiar with numbers they need to develop (or be taught) strategies for calculating such as the commutative law, the associative law and the distributive law. Whether or not the names are known, the principles must be and their consequences thoroughly explored. Later, children need to progress to working with large numbers and learn various written procedures.

There is now evidence that the procedural approach, encouraged by the traditional algorithm, leads pupils to ignore the meaning of the numbers they are using. Frequent errors relate to the treatment of numbers as separate digits and confusion over when to include the zero and when to leave it out.