A study by Oxford University’s Department of Education and reported in the Telegraph claims that “those who were good at maths reasoning aged eight tended to do better at the subject in future years than classmates who simply knew their numbers”.
This is pitched as a challenge to the current Government move towards rote learning of arithmetic in order to develop “fluency” ahead of studying algebra.
Study author Peter Bryant is quoted by the Times Educational Supplement saying,
Both arithmetic and maths reasoning are important and necessary, but we think there is a danger of maths reasoning moving out. I am not trying to say don’t teach times tables or procedures; it is important to have them. But it is possible to leave out maths reasoning and teach calculation, while you can’t teach reasoning without children being able to calculate.
Telegraph: Understanding maths ‘more important than learning by rote’.
TES: Rote learning equals maths confusion.
Report: The relative importance of two different mathematical abilities to mathematical achievement in the British Journal of Psychology.