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Memorising Maths Tables: old rote learning, or valuable neuroscience?

Posted by David Stanley on July 20, 2015 at 5:22 PM

Maths Brain Builder Recently, educator Colin Klupiec recorded our conversation where he teased out my understanding of how memorising maths tables can help students build learning capacity and the importance of the role played by parents. It is recorded in two parts on the Learning Capacity Podcast with the key points summarised below.

We discussed some findings from the neuroscientists around brain plasticity - the cognitive neuroscience and how it relates to what some people may think is a bit old-fashioned – rote learning, or learning by repetition.


Technology is not needed for learning to occur and the cognitive neuroscience research tells us that repetition builds and strengthens the connections between the parts of the brain that are being exercised by the repetitive task. So, while we usually think of neuroscience-based brain training exercises being delivered by computer technology, it is possible for us to achieve some brain training benefits without electronic-based technology.

The LearnFast Maths Skills Booster worksheets, a paper and pencil tool, exercise students’ memory, their attention and their ability to process information in the correct sequence. These thinking skills – memory, attention, processing, and sequencing - are essential for learning regardless of the subject and are the foundation for building learning capacity.

Plus they have the practical benefit of improving a student's understanding of the relationships between numbers. This is more powerful for building a student’s numeracy than simply learning tables.

In the podcast we also discussed:

  • The concept of speed and how to create more time in tests
  • The difference between practicing the tables versus tutoring and coaching (they explain maths concepts & elements of maths problems)
  • Foundation skills for “maths brain” fitness
  • What happens if a student is reluctant to engage with the maths tables
  • How learning and practicing speed with the maths tables helps students understand the power of goal setting
  • The value of celebrating success, even if it is small, at every opportunity

If you choose to listen to the podcast, please forgive the “ums” that showed where I was constructing my thoughts in response to Colin’s insightful questions.

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Topics: Confidence & Resilience, Learning Capacity, Maths, Podcasts

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