I teach the upper grades in my school, yet I continue to see kids who do not even have basic algebra skills in place. As a parent, I'm very aware of what my own children are learning in school. For the most part, I've been happy with their progress, but as they rise in grade level, I'm starting to see more emphasis on a loose understanding of the concepts and less emphasis on skills__particularly skills with arithmetic of fractions. The main problem with what I see with my students and my own children is that kids are taught "concepts" and are not taught skills__unless they're lucky enough to have a teacher who knows better. Most particularly, children are not taught mastery of arithmetic with fractions. Unfortunately, virtually all of their future math education depends on being able to do fractional arithmetic.

Today we all know that benefits of math are considerable. Math is not a subject one learns by reading the problems and solutions. American children have very little practice with multi_step problems, and very few opportunities to think their way in to and through problems that don't look like 'all the others'. With a packed curriculum and the increased emphasis on testing, our children are taught tons of procedures _ but procedures disconnected from when to use them, and why. Sustained thinking _ the key ingredient to math success _ is painfully absent in too many math classes.

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