## Tuesday, June 14, 2011

### Nine times five is forty-five; forty-five times ten is four hundred fifty

The "times tables" are emotionally associated with elementary math. Mostly the association is, Do I HAVE to learn this stuff? I hate it! WAH!

You know the times tables - here's one for you if you have forgotten:
• 1 times 4 is 4
• 2 times 4 is 8
• 3 times 4 is 12
• 4 times 4 is 16
• 5 times 4 is 20
• 6 times 4 is 24
• 7 times 4 is 28
• 8 times 4 is 32
• 9 times 4 is 36
• 10 times 4 is 40
When I searched on times tables I got 19.8 million hits, and when I searched on how to learn times tables I got 26.2 million, and how to teach times tables gave me 4.77 million. Wow!

Is multiplication so very mysterious? Or so very hard? Or so very lucrative for teachers, tutors, trainers, book publishers, software developers and musicians?

These seem to be key phrases that are common to the sites I viewed:
• math is fun
• life will be easier; ease the pain
• the best way; the latest research shows ...
• flash cards, games, songs, pictures
• rote learning is wrong, boring and dull
• memorization (this is or isn't a dirty word, depending on the site)
• calculators make learning this unnecessary
One site told me what their researchers had learned:
1. NO ONE enjoys learning times tables - it's like cleaning teeth or using sun lotion, you JUST HAVE TO DO IT.
2. Bribery works. Students learn faster if there is something they value at the end of it; preferably money.
Here is a table that goes from 1 to 20 in each direction. Somehow I can't imagine my mom handing me this and saying, Learn these math facts, and I'll give you some money!
I suspect she must have said Learn them, or else! So I did.

My mom at her graduation from teaching college back in 1954

Nowadays many moms say the same thing mine did. One mom in a million might say, Don't bother with that. Here's some entertainment instead, have a few laughs! [click to enlarge]:

Artwork by Jacob Borshard
If you are good at searching the web you can find two more of these tables ...

I'll bet very few moms, either now or then, will offer money for learning the times tables. But you can always ask ... just protect your backside and don't blame me!