With some improvements in reading and writing standards, math teaching and achievement are now in the crosshairs for schools -
Excerpt from NYT article, As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics: "It was a report from this same group in 1989 that influenced a generation of teachers to let children explore their own solutions to problems, write and draw pictures about math, and use tools like the calculator at the same time they learn algorithms.
But this fall, the group changed course, recommending a tighter focus on basic math skills and an end to “mile wide, inch deep” state standards that force schools to teach dozens of math topics in each grade. In fourth grade, for example, the report recommends that the curriculum should center on the “quick recall” of multiplication and division, the area of two-dimensional shapes and an understanding of decimals."
There are many cognitive skills required for elementary and advanced mathematics - not the least of them working, verbal, and visual-spatial memory, estimation, basic numeracy, automaticity of math facts retrieval, writing / writing automaticity, inference, and language comprehension... so it is not surprising that math may be the weakest of the 3 R's.
Check out the Butterworth chapter below for an excellent review of dyscalculia. There are many pearls -
Excerpt: e.g. for some dyscalculics, it takes them "longer to decide that 9 is larger than 2 than that 9 is larger than 8. Thhis seems to be due to some kind of counting strategy in which it takes longer to count from 2 to 9 than from 8 to 9."
Or "...an intelligent and industrious graduate, was 30 years old when we first tested him, but despite his best efforts, he was several times slower than controls on single-digit addition and subtraction, was quite unable to do multiplications involving numbers above 5, could not do two-digit subtraction at all, and was severely disabled on dot counting and number comparison..."
The authors also discuss the high co-morbidity between dyslexia and dyscalculia, and argue forcefully for better identification in the schools. This is particularly important here in the U.S. where the math standards are becoming the focus of NCLB.
"...Developmental Dyscalculia is not widely recognized by governments or by educators. It is still confused as dyslexia used to be with stupidity...only with better understanding of the nature of developmental dyscalculia can we devise effective ways of helping the millions of our fellow citizens..."
As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics - New York Times
Developmental Dyscalculia Chapter
Scientists Discover the Part of the Brain That Causes Some People to Be Lousy in Math
Discrete and analogue quantity processing in the parietal lobe
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