Christine Blower: Children don’t need to learn times tables – they can look them up on their phones

The Independent is reporting that the NUT leader Christine Blower has said that forcing children to know their full times tables is unnecessary because they can look up the answers on their mobile phones.

…Ms Blower told Sky News that ‘rote learning’ was not the best or only way to teach children. She said: “Looking up your times tables is very easy to do. So the other thing we have to do is make sure that children and young people use the computing ability on their mobile phones so they can get that at their fingertips.

“Children will learn the times tables in an appropriate way if they are taught in an appropriate way.”

She added that she was “not saying that children should not learn their tables” but rather cautioning against “pressing times tables onto children in a way that we don’t particularly think is necessarily helpful, and then saying that schools are failing because they are not necessarily doing the test, not necessarily all achieving the test results at the right time.”…

More at ‘Children don’t need to learn times tables because they can look them up on their phones, says NUT leader’


Our poll on the subject seems to be coming out strongly in favour of the policy, so is Christine Blower wrong on this one?

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  1. Bedtonman

    SchoolsImprove Christine is right (badly phrased) learning xtables is one thing but a national test on them at 11 is pointless

  2. EvidenceTeach

    SchoolsImprove Learning number-bonds means these calculations take less space in working memory and so more complex tasks can be tackled.

  3. Nairb1

    Sorry but this sounds like the same psycho-babble which brought us brain gym and desks cluttered with water bottles so that children can hydrate their brains regularly. I wouldn’t dispute that quick recall of number bonds/tables can be useful but hardly to the extent that lack of quick recall interferes with the brain’s capacity to tackle complex tasks.
    A test at the end of Y6 does have a purpose though. It gives the Secretary of State another simplistic measure of failure. Meaningless but easy and that’s all that matters.

  4. EvidenceTeach SchoolsImprove And the same complex tasks can be achieved by using aids such as multiplication squares.  Testing children on swift recall of tables does not necessarily demonstrate understanding of multiplication.

  5. mrsdrogba73

    SchoolsImprove Well, we can look everything up on our phone so should we bother with school anymore? She’s certainly a NUT!

  6. neilayates

    SchoolsImprove Of all the ridiculously short-sighted comments on this issue this ranks highest. God help you if your phone battery runs out

  7. TheLifeDyslexic

    SchoolsImprove the difference between knowing something and understanding something. Knowledge is knowing intelligence is understanding.

  8. thiskidsthinkin

    … but you do need to know them in the world of work, and you may not be allowed to use the phone in your pocket at work. For example, when I worked in a shop, I got to know my 12 times tables up to 12×24 because the stock arrived in packs of 12. Now, I need my 8 times tables for knowing the number of tables needed for school dinners (each table seats 8). We can’t use our phones at work because of food hygene. 
    I can (and do) look up new findings in science, history and earth science. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught in schools. The basics anyway!

  9. John Dalton

    Learning times tables has never gone away.  They have always been in the National Curriculum and numeracy strategies and the vast majority of teachers of maths and numeracy put some time into this skill.  What is wrong is for the education secretary to push them as more important than analytical mathematics skills in order to please the tory Back to Basics brigade.  Also there is little point in rote learning the 12 times table unless the right wing of the tory party are planning to reintroduce shilling and pense.  Better to learn up to 10 thoroughly and than strategies for mental arithmetic for all two digit umbers multiplied by a single number.
    John Dalton – Retired Mathematics Teacher

  10. TW

    @John Dalton  Totally agree but this is about the idiot government making up another lunatic wheeze for attacking education.

  11. Nairb1

    You can indeed look up ‘everything’ on a phone now … if your view of education is so narrow that it boils down to things you can look up on a phone.

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