So, I learned how some schools in my area are teaching multiplication today, as shown below:

One plus one, plus two, plus one…

I thought it was cool! It clearly shows breaking out the 10’s from the 1’s. It explicitly places the 0’s after the 10’s place. It lends itself SO easily to the FOIL method that’s used in algebra: (a + b)*(c + d) = a*c + a*d + b*c + b*d in the form of (30 + 7)*(20 + 8) = 600 + 240 + 140 + 56. The method I learned did this as well (as noted by the numbers that are added up), but it’s not made obvious. It’s got a similar form to Punnett Squares, K-Maps, and pretty much every other truth table.

I’m not touting this as the best way to multiply. There are lots of ways to get the answer, the most obvious of which is to design a device that will compute it for you so you can focus more on the meaning of the values. I’m also not advocating change for change’s sake. As a parent, it’s already difficult enough to keep up with daily life. The thought of adding in the requirement to unlearn and re-learn skills to help my kid learn sounds more than a little irritating.

What I really want to say is that I found this method very approachable, even though some parents found it intimidating. (In fact, the discussion around the example I saw was asking why kids couldn’t be taught the way they were taught. I found this ironic, given my memory of the original poster lamenting how difficult math was when we were in school.) I’m not trying to put them down, though. I recognize that my degree and my career field have made strong demands on daily use of math which probably colors my perception of it. I’m also not a kid any more. The riddle of that level of math has been solved for me, and it’s a lot easier to find something once you know what you’re looking for, which is probably why I think this method is cool. It’ll make finding stuff in the future easier for them.

Thanks for reading.