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Bye bye chunking?

(85 Posts)
PastSellByDate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:33:55

Wow if I hadn't read about this in the Times education supplement, I wouldn't have believed it but it seems that chunking is being abandoned - officially - link here:

Although I will concede that understanding division is multiple subtractions was good - I also know that many children were told they couldn't divide by old fashioned methods (long division - I guess now called short division) - and my children were certainly told their work was wrong.

Was the problem here that a method was adopted which parents were excluded from and which did not allow tried and true old fashioned methods to occur alongside them as well?

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 15:58:55

According to that article you can still chunk as much as you like. It's only important whether or not you chunked if you get the answer wrong and had showed your working out.

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 20:52:07

It's very interesting that having been fond of maths at school and having taught it for over thirty years, the same 'basic' methods keep cropping up despite the efforts of Governments and others to implement other methods.

Dividing using the traditional method of long division is a very efficient method of working and is easily extended into the decimals and later (A Level) dividing one algebraic expression by another.

In my opinion the greatest improvement to our children's maths will happen when we do away with imperial units and focus entirely on metric units for all aspects of life as they do just about everywhere else in the world (except across the pond, of course). But what do we see? Mr Gove loading even more imperial units onto our children - and more and more conversions between the two (the only children in the world who have to do this). The question of whether we should be using chunking and giving or not giving credit for the method used pales into insignificance compared to the metric/imperial issue!

I know some people may think this is off topic, but we really need to get our priorities right.

choccyp1g Tue 05-Feb-13 20:59:48

It would cause lots of arguments on Mumsnet, but I'd like to see a similar method of teaching maths as phonics for reading.
Children really need to understand "numbers" and place values before moving on to the next steps of adding, subtrating dividing.
Programs like Kumon and learning times tables by rote, are a bit like "Look and Say" for maths.
If chunking is taught properly and at the right stage, it entrenches understanding far better than the traditional method.

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 21:03:30

I think it's hard to imagine Britain or England without the mile or the pint. However, we seem to have adapted well to the kilo. More and more pubs are closing and milk is now sold by the litre, as is petrol. So, imperial units may actually be vanishing slowly. Perhaps our measuring of distances will be the last part of that change.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 05-Feb-13 21:10:01

DS1 managed to get to the end of Y6 without being really confident at any method of division or multiplication for larger numbers, despite being in top set. They were taught several methods, but never became super-confident with any of them. When he started Y7 at an academic secondary school, he found it a bit of a shock, and was put into set 4. I am convinced this was partly due to his lack of confidence with basic methods such as long division and traditional multiplication. He worked hard and was moved up two sets at the beginning of Y8.

Interestingly, DS3 (same school, four years later) is already confident at long division in Y4.

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:10:06

Here is a movie on YouTube about chunking: which begins by dividing 72 by 3.
I cannot see why this is easier than the standard short division method:

3 into 7 goes 2 remainder 1, which is carried over to the the 2.
3 into 12 goes 4.
Answer: 24

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:12:32

ThreeBeeOneGee, I think you have probably hit the nail on the head. This situation is often because one pupil was taught in a confusing way using too many methods and the other in a more logical manner using a limited numer - possibly just the one method.

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 21:13:48

If you asked me in the street I'd say 60/3 = 20
12/3 =4

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:15:10

Learnand say, I know we have had this discussion elsewhere in the forums, so I won't repeat myself here, but I imagine a Britain without miles and pints every minute of every day as I never use pints at all (or any other imperial units, come to that). I only use miles when I absolutely have to because they won't change the road signs.

Hedgepig Tue 05-Feb-13 21:17:13

Oh no! I just managed to work out chunking and I can do number lines grin.

Haberdashery Tue 05-Feb-13 21:17:58

I don't think chunking IS easier. I also don't think that's the point of it. However, what is brilliant about it is that it's explicit about what you are actually doing and what the process of division is about. Standard long division is a set of steps that you learn and as such it is easily forgotten, particularly if you didn't really know what you were doing to those numbers in the first place.

choccy, I agree with you.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 05-Feb-13 21:18:02

alanyoung, there is no point using a method if you are not secure in understanding why you are doing what you are doing.

I learned by the method you suggested, and whilst I could follow the process, I had no idea WHY I was doing any of it.

Children are not told they are wrong for using different methods now, they are encouraged to explain how they did it. Being told off for using the 'wrong' method is what happened to me when I was at school.

TreadOnTheCracks Tue 05-Feb-13 21:21:32


Have you heard of maths makes sense?

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 21:22:56

There might be a middle way for parents, (maybe for schools too) which is to explain the concept of division to the child in any way that the child can understand it, even if it's sharing lego blocks with toy animals.

And then to illustrate the method of formal division with the playful process above.

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:24:22

HumphreyCobbler, in principle I would love to concur with you and I do agree, of course, that children should understand everything they are doing, especially in a subject such as mathematics as it so accumulative. However, the fact is that sometimes we learn something and full understanding only comes later. Many of the things I learnt about maths I only really understood when I had to teach them. Sticking to one method is often better because with practice it can be mastered. Attempting to learn too many different methods can be more confusing.

Are you also saying that children who have learned chunking should chunk for the rest of their lives? If not, what is the next step?

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:25:52

Hedgepig, I think you meant:

Oh YES! I just managed to work out chunking and I can do number lines.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 05-Feb-13 21:26:24

no, they should chunk and understand what they are doing before they move to the next step

I too only really understood maths when I started to learn how to teach it. This is terrible! I want the children I teach to understand why they do something and be confident in their ability to do it.

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:27:19

HumphreyCobber, yes, but what is the next step?

merrymouse Tue 05-Feb-13 21:31:16

What is the next step from chunking?

For many the honest answer is a calculator.

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 21:33:23

The idea of teachers being comfortable with children not understanding what they are being taught is a really, really bad one.

Just because some of you had bad maths teachers that doesn't mean that bad maths teaching is a good idea. The idea is to explain the subject to the pupil in a way that he or she can understand it.

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:34:20

HumphreyCobbler, yes, it is terrible, but maturation is a factor here. We need to plough on through the syllabus to get the youngsters up to GCSE level at the right time (I wish that were not true, but I am afraid it is), so we cannot afford to hang around while children fully master a concept before they move on to the next. Quite often a fuller understanding comes through greater maturation and also through stretching the envelope of their knowledge so that they can see the context of what it was they were being taught last week/month/year.

It's not a perfect world, but children develop at different rates - some may be better at geometry at a certain age, others better at calculation etc. At the risk of boring the pants off people, if we got rid of the imperial units and their conversion to metric units, we would have more time to devote to these things.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 05-Feb-13 21:37:51

But you need to teach children to use mental strategies they are confident with. Written methods will follow from this. You have to ensure understanding, that is your job as a teacher!

Although I have spent a few years teaching counting etc grin
this is a detailed breakdown of the process

Haberdashery Tue 05-Feb-13 21:40:57

Are you a teacher, alan?

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 21:43:46

Yes he is, of many age groups.

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