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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.
The same is true for mastery of working with fractions. _ So, in general, kids who don't learn their multiplication tables and arithmetic with fractions usually don't do well in math. It's been proven that success in science depends to a great extent on success in math. So, these same kids usually don't do well with science, either. In other words, they're locked out of most of the growth that our economy is going to experience in the future. According to the federal government, eight out of ten jobs in the next twenty years are going to be computer related. If you want your child to have access to the major portion of jobs in the future, your child must master math. It's that simple. The Solution...or at least part of it _ Teachers are actually doing their best to educate children. The problems with education aren't so much on the level of teachers as with the institution as a whole. It's kind of like the state of communications in our country before the deregulation of the telephone companies. Before deregulation, one and only one advancement__the touch tone phone. After deregulation, well you have cell phones, the Internet, instant messaging, you name it! _ What dedicated teachers and parents need to do is to supplement public school instruction with strategies that work, that have always worked, to get kids to really master the fundamental skills of elementary math.
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