7The Times Tables Facts/Number Combinations

Introduction

Whenever there is a back‐to‐basics movement in education, the issue of learning ‘times tables’ (and other basic facts) arises. This seems to happen very frequently in England, most recently in 2014 with the introduction of a new curriculum. To a large extent this argument about rote learning times table facts is irrelevant for dyslexics and probably many other students, too. In our combined experience of over 50 years of teaching mathematics to dyslexics, we have found that the rote learning of times tables is a frustrating exercise for both learner and teacher (see also Miles 1983; Pritchard et al., 1989; Chinn, 1995a; Turner Ellis et al., 1996; Threlfall and Frobisher, 1999; Geary 2003). Yet still there are unrealistic expectations which should not be applied to all children, dyslexic or not.

It is one of our hopes for the future that, as neuroscience becomes increasingly sophisticated, there will be neurological evidence as to why this task is so difficult for so many children, and what solutions are possible.

Rote Learning Strategies

We believe that there is an effective alternative solution to this problem. Although within this chapter we suggest a highly effective rote learning technique, we believe that strategies, or derived fact strategies (Dowker, 2005) based on patterns and the interrelationships of numbers are effective in learning how to work out times table facts, a principle stated some 18 years ago in the ...

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