Depth Not Speed

Many people incorrectly believe that being good at mathematics means being fast at mathematics. It doesn’t and we need to dissociate mathematics from speed. When we value fast computation (as many classrooms do) we encourage a subset of learners who compute quickly and discourage many others, including deep slow thinkers who are very important to mathematics. We no longer need students to compute fast (we have computers for this) we need them to think deeply, connect methods, reason, and justify. Here are some suggestions for dissociating maths from speed and encouraging a broader range of students:

  1. Tell students you don’t value fast work. Mathematical thinking is about depth not speed.
  2. Don’t let mathematical discussions be driven by the fastest students.
  3. When asking for hands up, don’t always take answers from the fastest students.
  4. Don’t use flash cards, speed competitions, timed tests, instead value depth, creativity, different ways of thinking about maths, and different explanations.

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